Community Services Agency: Washington Area Women in the Trades (WAWIT): Building Pathways for Women and Work in the District of Columbia  

Contact: · Kathleen McKirchy: Comm Serv Agency 202-974-8221 (office) 202-974-8152 (fax)
· Silvia Casaro

A partnership between the YWCA of the National Capital Area, the Community Services Agency of the Metropolitan Washington Council, AFL-CIO (CSA), and Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW). The program works to prepare women to work in the trades in the DC Metro region, to have access to jobs that will help them and their families achieve greater economic security, and to meet the demands of the regional workforce. 

The Program:
We have developed a strategy to help women acquire the skills they need to pursue careers in the trades, and to connect them to apprenticeship and career opportunities after they graduate from the program.  The program will reach out to women from different communities and include some who face barriers that have prevented them from finding or keeping well-paying jobs in the past.

Outreach and recruitment:  All three partners will engage in outreach and recruitment activities with workforce development agencies, public benefits offices, and community and faith-based organizations to encourage eligible women to participate in the program.

Basic skills curriculum: The YWCA will be responsible for developing and implementing a curriculum that incorporates elements of earlier curricula developed by the YWCA and WOW. The curriculum will provide students with an array of soft skills necessary to be successful in the construction and building trades, including math and reading skills, fitness, life skills, and an introduction to the trades.  The basic skills component will be taught at the YWCA headquarters in downtown Washington.

Advanced training and information pipeline: The Community Services Agency of the AFL-CIO will facilitate the training by local unions. This training will provide students with hard skills. The training will take place two to three days per week throughout most of the program weeks and will include hands-on experience, guest speakers, and field trips to work sites.  An information pipeline will be created with these and other unions to create opportunities with apprenticeship programs and employers that will be available to participants on an ongoing basis both after completing the program and in the future. The two-part training curriculum will be 12 weeks in length.

Case management: WOW will implement a comprehensive case management component which will provide necessary supports to trainees both while they are enrolled and after they leave the program. Case managers will also work with employers to better understand their job requirements and needs, serving as an intermediary between the employee and the employer as necessary. The case manager will help connect participants with services such as child care, transportation, substance abuse programs, domestic violence supports, and will follow-up with participants for up to 18 months after they graduate to ensure a smooth transition into the workforce and to help with job retention. 

For Local Union Training
We are looking for locals who can take up to 30 women from the program for 2-5 days to provide exposure to your trade, some hands-on experience with tools and materials, safety information and whatever you think would benefit these individuals. Instructors, materials and lunch can be paid to the local from grant funds of WAWIT. WAWIT second cycle participants learning cement masonry skills at an Operative Plasterers and Cement Masons Local 891 apprenticeship training, photos by Andy Richards


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