A workforce development program that began just months ago continues to get people to work quickly with the skills they need to establish a career as a pro carpenter.
The Southeastern Carpenter’s Interior Systems Bootcamp series was launched in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, in the summer of 2021. Fifteen men and women participated, 15 graduated, and all were hired into good-paying jobs immediately after training concluded. Since then, the series has expanded to Nashville, Atlanta, and, most recently, Memphis.
The Bootcamp is an intensive interior systems pre-apprenticeship training program. Students train to perform interior systems construction work for 10 hours a day, four days a week, for four weeks. Students earn second-year apprentice designation if they achieve perfect attendance and master the skills via testing.
In their first session, Memphis held Bootcamp for nine students. Within a week of completion, eight of the participants were scheduled for hire-in at Ford’s BlueOval City electric truck plant construction or for local contractors in the Memphis area. All graduates received a starter kit of tools for interior systems work. Yelitza Martinez won the Top of the Class competition and received a battery-powered drywall screw gun.
Here's a photo album of the Memphis Bootcamp.
The program is also a big hit with contractors, who are encouraged to observe training. To date, contractors have hired nearly every student who has graduated from the program.
Pre-Apprentices train in OSHA 10, measuring, material handling, correct fastening procedures, building muscle memory of screw placement and depth, correct cutting procedures for sheetrock and metal studs/track, wall layout, wall construction, aerial lift, and other pertinent building skills.
Oak Ridge held its fifth session in June of 2023. All 15 students who started also completed the training and were immediately hired by contractors Valley Interior Systems and TJ Wies. See that session’s training photo album, here. Oak Ridge also completed Bootcamps in January 2023 and October 2022, where a total of 30 started, 28 finished, and contractor TJ Wies hired all graduates. In June 2022, 10 started and finished, and local contractors hired all of them as well. Take a closer look at the Oak Ridge Bootcamps when it all started in 2021 with this story and video.
Nashville took the lead from Oak Ridge and became the second Southeastern Carpenters’ area to launch the Bootcamp program. All five students who started also completed the training and were immediately hired by local contractors. See the Nashville photo album, here.
Atlanta has also hosted five Bootcamps and is achieving the same successful outcomes. Since their first session, Atlanta has started 44 pre-apprentices. Of them, 34 finished, and 31 accepted immediate job offers. In fact, when a contractor came to observe an Atlanta Bootcamp, he hired four students on the spot and committed to hiring all the students from the next session! Here's a story and video about the Atlanta program.
“The Bootcamp series is a successful tool to develop diverse talent for a career as a union carpenter,” said Tom Jenkins, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Southeastern Carpenters Regional Council. “The Memphis session included six females, all of whom joined our Sisters-in-the-Brotherhood group to receive peer mentoring and career ladder guidance.”
“We intend to continue hosting this program moving forward to cater to the extensive manpower needs for infrastructure projects around our Council,” Jenkins added.