This month’s newsletter focuses on Construction Plus, the YouthBuild model that offers occupational skills training beyond construction. First offered as a training option in 2013, Construction Plus (also known as C+) is an addition to the YouthBuild model that allows for the expansion of occupational skills training into industry-recognized certifications beyond the required construction training.

While initially this expansion was only available to previously-funded YouthBuild grantees because they had demonstrated ability to deliver the YouthBuild construction-focused model, with the 2018 Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), Construction Plus is now an option for any grantee, whether brand new or more experienced.  The 2018 FOA is currently open for applications and can be viewed here.

All Construction Plus industry trainings have the same program requirements as the construction-focused training model, including the use of industry-recognized certifications, hands-on work experience, and connections to post-program placement partners. For more on the design of the Construction Plus model, review TEGL 07-14 - Guidance for Implementing the “Construction Plus” Component of the YouthBuild Program

Construction Plus trainings broaden career pathway options for YouthBuild participants, and position YouthBuild programs and graduates to meet workforce needs through aligned training and credentials. In order to ensure this training-workforce connection, Construction Plus programs must provide local labor market data to demonstrate that the Construction Plus occupational skills training to be offered is in-demand in the local economy.

While there are many current and emerging specializations within construction, due to the emphasis on sustainable building, stronger construction that can withstand natural disasters such as earthquakes, and the innovations possible with new technologies, these are still considered construction industry trainings and, therefore, do not qualify as Construction Plus models.  Additionally, programs that provide certifications to participants that may be beneficial in job attainment but do not impart specific technical skills necessary to move up a career ladder, such as OSHA-10 and ServSafe, also do not count as Construction Plus models because they do not qualify as industry-recognized credentials, which are a required component of the Construction Plus model.

To ensure the Construction Plus model aligns with the core requirements of the standard YouthBuild construction model, DOL developed a Construction Plus Framework to help programs visualize and plan for the implementation of additional industry trainings and to ensure the Construction Plus industries also meet the definition of a pre-apprenticeship model, as defined in Section 681.480 of the WIOA Final Rule.  Section 688.120 of the Final Rule identifies all DOL-funded YouthBuild programs as pre-apprenticeship models.

In short, the pre-apprenticeship model definition requires:

  • Apprenticeship and industry partnerships
  • Approved training and curricula
  • Meaningful, hands-on training
  • Career counseling and supportive services
  • Industry-recognized credentials

In order to ensure YouthBuild programs running a Construction Plus program also qualify as pre-apprenticeship models, the Construction Plus Framework uses these five key requirements as the criteria for development.  As a Construction Plus grantee, your program must align components and activities with effective practices and industry needs. This includes supporting the career pathways of participants with quality placements in postsecondary education and/or employment.  In addition, strong apprenticeship and industry partners must be engaged in the planning, implementing, and monitoring of continuous quality improvement of any pre-apprenticeship experience. While many apprenticeship pathways are still evolving, opportunities to expand into new industries continue to be driven by local employers and labor markets.

As you consider embarking on or improving your Construction Plus model, keep these key considerations in mind:

  • What is the employment potential in the selected industry?
  • What industry-recognized credentials are recognized both locally and nationally? (Are credentials stackable and portable?)
  • What are the certificates/credentials necessary to meet DOL requirements?
  • Who will provide the training?
  • What adjustments need to be made to assist youth in overcoming barriers related to the training?
  • What will be the Construction Plus schedule? Will you offer separate or concurrent trainings?
  • When and where will the Construction Plus training be offered?
  • How will hours be allocated between classroom and hands-on training?
  • Is the career pathway clear? Are participants able to move easily from entry level positions to advanced positions, or will they need further advanced training?
  • Does your program have access to the necessary technology and equipment needed to provide high-quality training and work-based learning experience?
  • Who will provide the hands-on work experience and in what context?

For more on the Construction Plus Framework, review the Construction Plus toolkit, Construction Plus Framework for a Quality Pre-Apprenticeship Experience, which includes Spotlights of 5 YouthBuild programs who have successfully implemented the Construction Plus model.   Also, if you missed our June 5th webinar, Construction Plus Framework: Overview and Strategies for Program Alignment, you can access the recording here.

Keep reading to learn how one program ventured into Construction Plus in order to align with a local emerging market.