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In October, the CityBuild Academy held a graduation for its 27th class of pre-apprentices at San Francisco City Hall. - Photo by Paul Burton

CityBuild Academy Graduates New Pre-Apprentices

By Paul Burton, Contributing Writer

The CityBuild Academy held a graduation for its 27th class of pre-apprentices on Oct. 25 at San Francisco City Hall's North Light Court.

"We've made great progress in my first month on the job in recreating the momentum began by past Director Patrick Mulligan and his great work," said CityBuild Director Joshua Arce, thanking supporters of the program, including building trades unions, contractors and community based organizations. "We've initiated a series of new community-labor initiatives to ensure that no one is left behind in terms of employment opportunities and a pathway to the middle class during this, perhaps the biggest construction boom of our lifetimes."

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CityBuild Director Joshua Arce gave San Francisco Building & Construction Trades Council Secretary-Treasurer Michael Thériault a certificate of recognition, thanking him for his early and continued support for CityBuild's pre-apprenticeship training program. - Photo by Paul Burton

Based at City College of San Francisco's Evans campus, CityBuild began in 2006 as an effort to coordinate city-wide construction training and employment programs. It is administered by the Office of Economic and Workforce Development in partnership with CCSF, community non-profit organizations, labor unions and industry employers

Assemblymember David Chiu said the recent package of bills addressing, "the worst housing crisis in history" would provide $5 billion in funding for housing construction.

"Who is going to build it? CityBuild," Chiu said. "We are going to continue to build and make San Francisco the greatest city because it will be built by the CityBuild workforce. The future is bright."

Mike Carr, Director of Workforce Development for the City, congratulated the students for graduating "after 18 weeks of hard work."

"This class of 44 graduates includes residents of 10 of San Francisco's 11 supervisorial districts, with 75 percent of the graduates already working." Carr said.

CityBuild has a record of placing 90 percent of graduates in construction jobs, including 1,300 employed in 2016.

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) Director Ivar Satero said construction projects at the airport will provide good jobs for CityBuild grads. He previously oversaw construction at the airport.

"We know we can get good quality workers through CityBuild," Satero said. "You can help transform the airport and the city and be proud of it."

Satero added that it was great to see people supporting each other in their careers. "It's not just about the skills you are learning but the values around your work," he said. "We strive to build a culture to drive excellence at SFO; you can be part of it."

CityBuild Graduate Zena Johnson thanked CityBuild instructors, and said she was able to check out various trades and learn about tile setting, carpentry, drywall installation and painting as a City Build student. She said she could use her interest in art in her career as a tile-setter. Johnson said being able to be successful in the male-dominated construction industry has helped build her confidence.

The CityBuild graduates, many dressed in work clothes, received certificates from CityBuild as well as from Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, who helped found CityBuild as San Francisco Mayor.

Before the graduates and their families celebrated and gathered for a catered dinner, CityBuild Director Arce introduced San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council Secretary-Treasurer Michael Thériault, thanking him for his early and consistent support for the pre-apprenticeship training program, and gave him a certificate of recognition.

"It can't be stated enough: the success of our program rises or falls on the strength of our partnership with the San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council and its affiliates," Arce said.

"CityBuild provides a solid pathway into construction careers," Thériault said. "You are now in a position to do great work. You can be in a union, which is a second family, where we stand together and support each other."

Thériault asked the graduates to look around the room and see, "the lighting, the molding, the floor tiles and finishes" and think about what's behind the walls—the duct work and wiring. "You built that," he said.

"You are now part of a much larger you—a community that goes back thousands of years that built our world," Thériault said. "Look at the great cities of Timbuktu and Alexandria in Africa, Machu Picchu and Tenochtitlan in the Americas, Angkor Wat and Beijing in Asia, or Paris and Rome in Europe—you did that. Always have that pride when you see the buildings you worked on and tell your family: 'I built that.'"

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