As a carpenter and business owner in Chicago with years of experience under his tool belt, Melvin Henley said he sees a need for more skilled trade workers, especially in minority communities.
Now, he’s partnering with the non-profit group, Sustainable Options for Urban Living, to focus on finding prospective students who want to train to be carpenters.
“My father impressed upon me to get a trade so I can take that anywhere in the world and I want to share that opportunity with others that do not have that opportunity ordinarily,” Henley said.
Henley’s company, PAC Leaders, has hosted several onsite training sessions for potential students.
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“We can then sponsor individuals that we have trained through this program to get into a four year apprenticeship with the union,” Henley said.
Cynthia Stewart, executive director of Sustainable Options for Urban Living, said the goal of the program is to empower communities with training and access to construction skills.
“We have an abundant source of people and skill sets and we can put them to work,” Stewart said. “We can put them to work rebuilding our neighborhoods one block at a time, one house at a time and they can live there and with the skills they can have a decent income.”
Henley said he is optimistic more people will see the demand for carpenters.
“Carpenters are the first ones in a project and the last ones to leave and the basis of carpentry ranges from many different things, from commercial carpentry, to residential, to new construction to mill work,” Henley said.
More information can be found on the SOUL website: https://soul-program.org/