In a 2017 photo, Dennis Coyne, Opportunities Long Island instructor,...

In a 2017 photo, Dennis Coyne, Opportunities Long Island instructor, introduces new students to what they will be learning while studying at the IBEW Local 25 Electrical Workers Union in Hauppauge. Credit: Heather Walsh

Opportunities Long Island, an education program that prepares young adults from poor communities to compete for apprenticeships offered by construction unions, has partnered with Minority Millennials to recruit more apprentices from diverse communities.

The two groups are working together this fall to market pre-apprenticeship to young people from Long Island’s Black and Hispanic communities. The goal is to recruit qualified candidates from those groups to participate in training classes early next year that will create a pathway to apprenticeships in trades like plumbing, carpentry and electrical work.

Erica Rechner, executive director of Opportunities Long Island said that her organization, which runs one eight-week training course a year for 20 to 25 selected applicants, gives young people from disadvantaged communities another avenue to win acceptance for often-competitive union apprenticeships.

“When somebody typically applies for a union apprenticeship program, there could be 5,000 that fill out an application for 100 or 200 opportunities,” Rechner said.

Typically, her group receives around 100 to 150 applicants. Opportunities Long Island, founded in 2015, was created by the Labor Education & Communities Services Agency Inc., an Island nonprofit supported in part by the United Way of Long Island.

Through the weekslong training, which is free and begins in February, Rechner said students learn about the variety of trades they could pursue as an apprentice.

“It’s a pathway to the middle class,” she said. “You have access to livable fair wage that you can support yourself and support a family … there’s not many opportunities out there on Long Island that can say the same thing.”

Minority Millennials, a nonprofit advocacy group pushing for greater involvement of young Black and Hispanic Islanders in shaping public policy in the region, will be marketing the pre-apprenticeship programs to the historically underserved communities.

“We naturally have a direct communication to some of the targeted demographics that Opportunities Long Island is looking to get into construction and trades,” said Daniel J. Lloyd, founder and president of Minority Millennials.

Lloyd’s group will primarily be reaching out through social media marketing this fall, he said.

“We know that construction and trades, especially when they’re unionized, have been sustainable [careers] for working-class Long Islanders,” Lloyd said. “It’s a successful model for building generational wealth.” 

Information and application sessions will be held on Nov. 15 at HempsteadWorks, located at 50 Clinton St. in Hempstead starting at 1 p.m.; and Nov. 30 starting at 10 a.m. at the Long Island Federation of Labor, located at 390 Rabro Dr. in Hauppauge.

All interested applicants must attend an information session to apply.

Applicants must be at least 18, have a valid driver’s license, be unemployed or from low-income households, able to pass a reading and math test at an eighth-grade level and possess a high school diploma, GED or have passed a Test Assessing Secondary Completion exam at time of application.

Accepted students must be able to attend training classes Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

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