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Step-Up Apprenticeship

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What is Step-Up?
Step-Up is a strategy initiated by HUD in partnership with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) in 1992 to assist low-income persons, particularly public and Indian housing residents, to obtain job training, career employment, and economic self-sufficiency. Step-Up combines the time-honored tradition of formal apprenticeship with preparatory educational and life skills training, and support services.

Why HUD?
HUD's mission is broad and multi-faceted, and includes increasing homeownership; supporting community development; increasing access to affordable housing free of discrimination; and providing economic opportunities for low-income people. HUD is privileged to offer financial assistance through its many programs and other endeavors toward this mission; key activities involve the construction and building maintenance trades and HUD projects generate significant numbers of jobs in these trades. However, HUD was concerned that the jobs being created by HUD projects were not accessible to many low-income people living in the neighborhoods receiving HUD assistance. Through Step-Up, HUD strives to utilize its programs and projects to make jobs and training in the construction and maintenance fields available to people who may not have such opportunities otherwise. In order to further this objective, HUD turned to apprenticeship.

Why apprenticeship?
HUD supports apprenticeship because it works. Many of HUD's program partners such as state and local governments, public housing authorities (PHAs), and tribally-designated housing entities (TDHEs) already use apprenticeship as a means to assemble and train a highly-qualified workforce. In addition, many contractors and subcontractors engaged on HUD-assisted projects participate in established apprenticeship programs. Apprenticeship programs offer job training together with jobs; apprentices earn wages while they are learning their trade. Apprenticeship has a long and proud history of providing structured, highly competent, safe and comprehensive occupational training and of producing journey-level workers of exceptional caliber. America needs a highly skilled workforce to build and maintain its communities, infrastructure and economy.

Why Step-Up?
For many low-income people, access to and/or participation in apprenticeship was limited. Some people didn't meet entry level requirements for apprenticeship such as having a high school diploma or equivalent, or having taken certain math or science classes. Some didn't have access to affordable child care or transportation, or both. Mainstream job training and employment was beyond the reach for many. HUD created Step-Up as a bridge to close the gap and make apprenticeship opportunities more accessible.

How is Step-Up different?
The Step-Up Year
The Step-Up model bridges this gap by offering a preparatory period of paid practical work experience together with basic education and support services. Typical Step-Up programs feature GED programs for those who do not have a high school diploma; transportation and child care assistance; life-skills training; counseling; and may offer subsidies for work clothing and tools. This preparatory period and support services give people a chance to gain the education, skills and work experience that they need to successfully enter and complete an apprenticeship, or to pursue other career training and employment. The preparatory period usually lasts one year, but it can be shorter or longer depending on the circumstances. After this initial period, Step-Up participants can transition to traditional apprenticeship programs, other occupational training or continuing education, and/or to long-term employment.

Work Experience in a Variety of Trades
Just like apprentices in traditional programs, Step-Up apprentices spend part of their time in on-the-job training and part of their time in classroom training. However, unlike traditional programs, Step-Up apprentices can gain on-the-job work experience in a variety of trades. This flexibility means that there may be more on-the-job work opportunities and it means that Step-Up apprentices are exposed to more kinds of work and can learn from their own experience which trade(s) best suits them.

How does apprenticeship work?
All bona fide apprenticeship programs are based on standards that are approved by DOL's Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training (BAT) or a state apprenticeship council (SAC) recognized by BAT. The standards outline the on-the-job and classroom training that will be provided to apprentices registered under the program and the progress that will be required of the apprentices in order to complete the program. The standards also specify the wages that will be paid to the apprentices; these wages increase as the apprentices demonstrate progress on-the-job and in the classroom. Traditional apprenticeship programs typically involve 4 to 6 years of training. Apprentices that complete their training are certified as journeyworkers in their respective trade; a certification that is recognized, nationally.

How does Step-Up work?
Step-Up programs rely upon partnerships among community educational institutions, industries and employers, trade unions, and service providers, and all Step-Up programs are based upon a commitment to long-term employment outcomes for the Step-Up apprentices. A program sponsor serves as the "hub" for coordinating the design and implementation of the Step-Up program. The sponsor works with the BAT or SAC to develop the standards. The sponsor recruits the Step-Up apprentices; arranges for on-the-job and classroom training; monitors the progress of the individual apprentices; and generally coordinates the activities of the various partners and participants. The sponsor and partners also seek placements for the Step-Up apprentices that complete their preparatory period.

Can Step-Up work outside of construction and building maintenance? Absolutely. There are thousands of occupations that can be learned through apprenticeship. HUD programs primarily fund construction and building maintenance activities and HUD projects need skilled workers in these trades. Naturally, that is where HUD started. But, HUD encourages apprenticeship in any occupation. For example, a Step-Up sponsor could consider a wide range of occupations beyond construction and building maintenance including child care, building inspection, health care, office support, and many more.

How can I get more information or assistance?
HUD's Office of Labor Relations can provide more information and assistance concerning Step-Up. Please follow the link, below, for a list of the Labor Relations field staff, their contact information, and the jurisdictions they serve.

Labor Relations Regional/Field Office Staff



Content current as of 20 October 2010   Follow this link to go  Back to Top   
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