Philadelphia School District joins building trades unions to offer apprenticeship training

Three people speak at a podium.

Council President Darrell Clarke, Building Trades Head Ryan Boyer and School District Superintendent Tony Watlington make announcement of new program. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

The Philadelphia School District and the building trades unions are joining together in an effort to offer pre-apprenticeship training to high school students. The hope is the opportunity could lead to a lifelong career in a job that could pay six figures.

The effort is starting in the form of a pilot program at Strawberry Mansion High School. Head of the Building and Construction Trades Council Ryan Boyer said he would guarantee a position to anyone who can complete the course and their screening process.

A man speaks into microphones at a podium.
Ryan Boyer of Building Trades told the youth earning potential in the trades is unlimited. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

“My life has been amazing because of this unionized construction industry,” Boyer said. ““My life’s mission is to give you that sort of opportunity.”

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City Council President Darrell Clarke graduated from Strawberry Mansion High, and told students things have really changed over the years.

“Back in the day, they had wood shop, they had metal shop, they had electric shop. Right? And then somehow all that went away,” he said. “Here we are years later, talking about bringing meaningful opportunities here, educational opportunities that will lead not only to a good job, but it will lead to a career.”

Darrell Clarke speaks from a podium.
City Council President Darrell Clarke speaks at a press conference announcing a new partnership between Philadelphia School District and building trades unions on January 25, 2023. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Tylisa Williams is a graduate of the program, and is now an apprentice. She urged students to take the classes seriously because it’s the pathway to a better life.

“By the time you’re 21, a legal age, you can be driving whatever car you want, a house, everything. Take advantage. The opportunities are out here.”

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The students will also receive financial education as part of the curriculum.  Boyer said that is important because they can make a six figure potential income and if they don’t manage it well they won’t be able to become financially secure.

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