Ambassador Program Encourages A Career In Carpentry
In a time when student debt is at an all-time high, the average age of entry into our free apprenticeship programs hovers at 28 years old. In efforts to lower that age, and grow our union with diversified job sites, Pacific Northwest Carpenters Institute (PNCI) developed an Ambassador Program. The program is made up of Union Carpenters like Richard, Maya, Selina, and Jonathan–each willing to grow their leadership skills while sharing their craft with kids in the community.
“I believe in the brotherhood, I believe in hard work for a fair wage. I’ve had many jobs before, now I have a great career. The Ambassador program gives a chance for people to see all different types of people in our trade. It helps draw people into our program, it helps keep people in our program. The more that we put into our union, the more that our union puts back into us. We have to keep that new blood coming in.
My first work was with the P.A.C.E. program with Portland Public Schools, I helped them frame up a wall and made sure they knew we were the rock stars of the trades–we do so many different things. We are the ones on the job from start to finish. Carpenters run the job sites.”
– Richard Callahan, LU 1503
“It’s good to have outreach from people that are relatable. You want to see someone that looks like you tell you that they like the work. We have a good spread of people from different backgrounds and experiences. I volunteered at a P.A.C.E. event where the students built a wall, and each trade came in to help with the camp.
It was really fun to work with high schoolers, it was hilarious at moments, and nice to get in touch with students that are potentially interested in doing the work that I do. It was a special experience to be a part of their entrance into this, in a less pressured environment. There were four girls in the class, and it was great to work with them. It was nice to be a representation of the industry and show that just because you have painted nails does not mean you can’t swing a hammer.”
– Maya Berns, LU 1503
“The Ambassador program has given me a positive outlook on the industry and those that want to be a part of it. The program is a great reminder to be friendly with everyone and not take everything so seriously. We’re all in a community, and it’s not all about production. We all need to work together to build a future.
Everyone in the program seems to have the same goals of outreach, being there for each other and working to bring back the middle class. I enjoy volunteering. Specifically, to kids, since I am close to their age. I have been lucky to give back to my community through the ambassador program by talking to kids at Cascadia Tech Academy.”
– Selina Lozano Canales, LU 146
“I’m a big supporter of the union, I believe with the current climate of the country’s unions are more important than ever. Wages have not followed the cost of living, and people deserve a living wage. We are reaching out to the younger generations and letting them know that they don’t have to go into thousands of dollars into debt, they can make money while going to school and support themselves and their families.
As ambassadors, we are breaking down the stigma that carpenters are a bunch of jerks. Millennials and Gen Z want to feel valued. They are more interested in being happy in the workplace than with how much money they make. Emotional stability/security versus financial stability/security. This is a tough issue for us, considering construction workers aren’t known for being the most emotionally available individuals.”
– Jonathan Middleton, LU 146
PNCI is looking to contractors to support and grow the Ambassador program.
Outreach events like this grow leadership skills in our carpenters and qualify as affirmative action efforts. Interested in learning more about how you or your company can support the program?
The P.A.C.E. Mentorship Program introduces Portland Public School students to the trades through eight after-school sessions. Teams of students work with industry mentors to frame a wall, install a heating duct, an electrical switch, and a plumbing fixture before hanging their perfectly cut drywall. More than a dozen PNCI Ambassadors volunteered as mentors for the program this spring, working with 36 high school students.
Click here to learn more about P.A.C.E.