Marshawn's Journey to Self Sufficiency

Marshawn's Journey to Self Sufficiency

Marshawn Harris came to the Urban League when he was experiencing housing instability and looking for a career that could provide him an opportunity to become more economically self-sufficient. After meeting with the Urban League staff, he expressed a strong interest in pursuing work in the construction industry.  

Marshawn immediately enrolled in the Urban League’s Skilled Trades Apprenticeship Training (START) program. This includes a six week overview of the trades including exposure to numerous Registered Apprenticeship Programs in Wisconsin, individualized tutoring to prepare for the various apprenticeship qualifying exams, and other coaching and supportive services to prepare for his career. During this time, he was also assigned to an Urban League employment coach who had 35 years of experience in the industry, including work as a journey-level Steamfitter. Marshawn’s Urban League coach helped him locate temporary housing and connect with a partner non-profit agency that helped him earn his license through their Driver’s License Recovery Program. By the end of the START program, Marshawn had successfully passed both the laborer and the carpenter qualifying exams.  

After completing the START program, Marshawn then enrolled in the Urban League’s seven week, 224-hour Foundational Construction Skills Academy. The training includes 124 hours of classroom instruction and 110 hours of hands-on learning at a local commercial construction site. Through this opportunity Marshawn gained proficiency in 95 different construction skills in the areas of safety, fall protection, hand and power tool usage, math and measuring, flagging, blueprints, construction materials, and more. He also visited various local apprenticeship training centers and learned basic work readiness and financial literacy skills contextualized within the trades and construction industry. The program allowed him to earn multiple industry-recognized certifications and credentials including OSHA 10, First Aid/CPR, Flagger, Fall Protection, PACT Certificates I-IV, and an Apprenticeship Readiness Certificate from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development’s Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards.  

At the end of the program, Marshawn attended an interviewing event that the Urban League that was specifically organized for graduates of the START program. Here, he had the opportunity to present a five minute pitch to 15 different contractors and apprenticeship program representatives. As a result, he was offered a position with S&L Underground, a leading area contractor for residential and commercial water and sewer main installation and repair. Within just a few months, S&L Underground sponsored his enrollment in the Laborer's Union Local 464 Registered Apprenticeship Program. Just a few months into his RAP program, Marshawn was earning $23.00 per hour. He had also secured stable housing and purchased a vehicle so he can get to and from work. The Urban League is proud to support Marshawn on his journey and will continue to monitor his progress throughout his apprenticeship training.

Learn more about the National Urban League, one of DOL's Equity Intermediary partners.

Publish Date: 12/03/2021

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