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News & Updates

Operation Exit graduates young, at-risk residents into building trade apprenticeships

Nov 09, 2016

The newest class of Operation Exit, Mayor Martin J. Walsh's intensive career preparation program for at-risk young adults, has achieved a high-water mark of success for the program. The participants – all young men of color with some history of court involvement – achieved a 100 percent graduation rate. Of the 19 graduates, 17 have secured union apprenticeships in the building trades at starting wages of $19-24 per hour. Robert K. Kraft, Chairman and CEO of The Kraft Group and New England Patriots, provided the funding for this class of Operation Exit.

"The young men in Operation Exit have made the commitment to change the direction of their lives," Mayor Walsh said. "Our commitment to them is to provide the tools they need to sustain that change. When it comes to making our communities safer and more productive, these young people are showing the way."
Over half of the Operation Exit graduates, whose average age is 24, shoulder parenting responsibilities. Most reside in Dorchester, Mattapan, Roxbury, or the lower South End.
“Operation Exit is the best evidence that none of us are just one thing and that with the right opportunity and support, success is possible for any one of us. Mayor Walsh has insisted that we think of public safety outside of the parameters of enforcement only. This initiative is evidence of that philosophy!” said Daniel Mulhern, Director of the Mayor's Office of Public Safety.
Mayor Walsh established Operation Exit in 2014 to help at-risk residents gain knowledge and skills for new careers. The program is co-administered by the Mayor's Office of Public Safety and YOU Boston, an organization that helps young people who present with multiple barriers achieve success in education and employment. Four previous cycles of Operation Exit have focused on the culinary industry, web development, and the building trades. Thus far, 90% of the 49 young people who have graduated from the building trades cycles have been successfully placed in internships.
Over a three-week period from July to August 2016, Operation Exit's most recent cohort spent 8-hour days working to ready themselves for entry in the building trades. Participants conducted site visits to construction jobs, logged shop time with unions, earned OSHA and CPR certifications, received individualized support services, and worked on job readiness skills such as interviewing, conflict resolution, and financial literacy. Graduates have been placed in apprenticeships with the sheet metal workers', carpenters', laborers', painters', and ironworkers' unions.
A recent report commissioned by the Mayor's Office of Workforce Development (OWD) found that the construction industry poses promising career pathways for low-income residents. The industry is projected to grow by 27 percent between 2012 and 2022 and strong union membership has promoted opportunities for career and wage advancement.

On Wednesday evening, Mayor Martin J. Walsh will join representatives of the building trades community to congratulate the newest graduates of Operation Exit at a celebratory dinner at Sheet Metal Workers Local Union #17 in Dorchester. In addition to Mayor Walsh, other speakers will include Daniel Mulhern, Director of the Mayor's Office of Public Safety, and Brian Doherty, General Agent of the Building & Construction Trades Council.  

"We're particularly excited to celebrate this cohort of Operation Exit for the program's highest graduation rate and swiftest apprenticeship placements yet," said Freddie Velez, Deputy Director of YOU Boston. "With each successive cycle, we continue to refine the program model to meet participants' needs. We're proud to see that investment paying off in these graduates' success."
YOU Boston is a sub-agency of the Mayor's Office of Workforce Development, an affiliate of the Boston Planning & Development Agency.

About the Mayor's Office of Workforce Development
The Mayor's Office of Workforce Development (OWD) is an innovative agency within the Boston Planning & Development Agency that seeks to ensure the full participation of all Boston residents in the city's economic vitality and future. The OWD funds and oversees programs that promote workforce development through education, jobs training, apprenticeships, financial coaching, career pathways, literacy initiatives, and the like. Please visit OWD.Boston.Gov to learn more about the OWD's work and follow us on Twitter @OWDBoston.

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