Phipps Neighborhoods launches new career training program in building services

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Phipps Neighborhoods, a South Bronx nonprofit dedicated to the economic empowerment of low-income communities, is accepting applications for the first cohort of its Career Network Building Services program.
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Phipps Neighborhoods, a South Bronx nonprofit dedicated to the economic empowerment of low-income communities, is accepting applications for the first cohort of its Career Network Building Services program, a paid internship providing construction training and certification exclusively for Bronx residents.

The five-week program offers participants construction workshops, industry-recognized certifications and on-the-job experience to begin careers in construction. Applicants must be 18 or older, available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, and pass a “basic construction math skills assessment.” The deadline to apply is Oct. 17, and the program will begin in November.

While the program is open to all Bronx residents, Daniel Agosto, managing director of workforce programs at Phipps Neighborhoods, said it is particularly designed to offer opportunities to residents of Phipps Houses and the surrounding West Farms neighborhood.

“[Career Network Building Services is] going to be providing opportunities for people to be invested back into the communities that they’re coming from,” Agosto told the Bronx Times. “So if somebody is living in the West Farms area, and they’re a Phipps Houses resident they know firsthand some of the challenges, how they can help to overcome those challenges, and how to be able to give back.”

In addition to training and certification, Agosto said the program offers participants potential opportunities for career advancements beyond entry level positions.

“We envision someone that could potentially start off as a porter and eventually becoming a super or potentially an area manager, and that’s the career path that we’re looking to provide for them,” Agosto said.

The new launch was modeled after Phipps Neighborhood’s Career Networks Healthcare, a similarly structured program in partnership with Montefiore Health System and Hostos Community College. Now in its eighth year of operation, Career Networks Healthcare has enrolled 729 participants and placed 481 of them into health care positions.

“I see participants’ lives change,” Corwin Spivey, placement and outcome manager for Career Networks Healthcare, said. “Many of them come into our program without any experience in the health care sector, get into the health care sector, get into the union, (and) do advanced training to get nationally certified. And it has really propelled them to begin a career in health care.”

Agosto said a combination of the success of Career Networks Healthcare and conversations with the community about resident needs and career interests motivated the launch of Career Network Building Services. Opportunities for employment and career advancement, Spivey said, are also particularly needed within underserved communities.

“The community that we are in has one of the highest unemployment rates and one of the highest non-high school graduation rates,” Spivey said. “And so, we hope that these programs help people and residents get the skills and get the education that they need to become gainfully employed.”

As Phipps Neighborhoods expands its career preparedness programming with Career Network Building Services, Agosto said he foresees participants receiving lasting benefits under the proven model of career training and placement.

“Eventually we anticipate that this will provide some financial stability and financial freedoms,” Agosto said. “Hopefully (participants will) be able to use certifications that they earned (and) the knowledge that they’ve gotten on the job … towards improving their lives and their family’s lives.”

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