TRACS, aimed at preparing adults for construction jobs, graduates first 10 students
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The construction industry in the United States is facing an extreme labor shortage. but a local pre-apprenticeship program is helping to fill some of those jobs.
Ten students Wednesday became the first graduates of Rochester’s TRACS program, aimed at preparing trainees for those high-demand construction jobs.
TRACS — or Training Rochester Adults in Construction Skills — is a collaborative dedicated to putting anyone interested in a career in construction on the path to success — one that starts with landing an apprenticeship.
It’s a new day for students like Demetrius Smith.
“I’m going to make it. I’m going to graduate. And here I am. All of my certifications. No classes missed,” Smith said.
After an eight-week intensive training program working alongside mentors from local construction unions, Smith says the TRACS program has prepared him for his next career.
“I’m leaning towards three out the 18 unions. It’s probably going to probably be the laborers, the plumbers, or the heat insulators,” he said.
According to Associated Builders and Contractors, there were 300,000 open construction positions in 2023 and construction employment declined over the year in 54 metropolitan areas, or 15 percent of all areas.
These are reasons why Rochester Careers in Construction President Joseph Morelle Jr. says landing an apprenticeship is a critical first step in filling skilled labor jobs across New York.
“What we are doing here is we are focused on soft skills. What it takes into the construction industry — being on time, making sure you have reliable transportation, making sure that you have some initial skills to make you ready for an apprenticeship,” Morelle said.
The Urban League of Rochester, the Rochester Building and Construction Trades Council, and North American Building Trades Union all worked together to get the trainees ready.
“Across the country, they are very successful. What it does is, it give the trades across our area and across the nation the opportunity to flush out who is really ready for the trade and it also allows our graduates here to get involved in every trade,” Morelle said.
Invaluable lessons that Morelle says will put TRACS’ first graduating class of 10 students one step ahead of everyone else.
“And then once they start one of the 19 different trades here in Rochester Organized Union Trades, then they’ll go to work,” he said.
It’s a future that graduate Cristian Mendoza says he is looking forward to.
“I’m actually looking to be a laborer. So you know I am hoping to get into that type of field. I really wanted to get into this type of field, you feel me?” Mendoza said.