Labor unions are not highly represented with people of color, but Delaware State University is helping an organization change that for the better.
The Delaware Pathways 2 Apprenticeship (P2A) has reached an agreement with the University to use a classroom on campus to provide training that prepares Kent County participants – largely from low-income communities – gain entry into construction union apprenticeship programs, providing a pathway to middle class careers.
The P2A Program was originally developed and operates on the auspices of the Labor, Education, Economics and Empowerment of People (LEEP) organization in New York City. With P2A’s expansion into Delaware, the program has connected with local labor and carpentry unions that are looking to increase their presence in the state.
The first group of Kent County participants are currently involved in P2A classes being held on the University’s main campus in Dover. The six-week program provides refresher instruction in math and reading, as well as knowledge about construction industries, unions, and other pertinent areas during morning sessions. In the afternoon, the participants get hands-on maintenance experience through community service work. The current group is working with facilities professionals at Wesley College.
“The community services aspect is an important part of this program because we want our participants to understand that it is about “Learn, Earn and Return,” said John Blydea, the co-chair of LEEP, who has helped in the establishment of the first Kent County P2A session. “It is important that they give back and make an investment in their communities, because their
communities are making an investment in them.”
The Delaware P2A Program was first established in Wilmington where it has held five different six-week sessions. The current session held at DSU represents P2A first expansion into Kent County.
For anyone interested in the P2A program can go to www.p2adelaware.org and scroll down to the bottom of the home page to the “Contact Us” section, fill out the form and submit it. Or interested persons can call (302) 518-5681.
Rysheema Dixon, executive director, said the program is geared toward helping participants get an apprenticeship and to excel in the construction field.
We focus on math and reading, which is a high priority, so that they can excel once they get into their apprenticeship,” Ms. Dixon said. “This program also makes sure that they have the soft skills, like understanding the history of labor and what a union is, financial literacy, interview skills, an overview of what they will get once they are into a union apprenticeship.
Anthony Floyd, a current participant from Dover, said the P2A Program has been a good move for him. “P2A is providing a lot of knowledge and I will be able to make a central career out of it,” he said.
Japhis Lampkins, a P2A instructor, said he is enjoying working with the participants. “I look at the change in the gentlemen as they go through the instruction that we give,” Mr. Lampkins said. “It is a good thing for the community here.”
Once the participants complete the P2A Program, it is expected that they will be between equipped to do well on the Union’s entrance tests.
Del State’s connection to the P2A Program reflect the “Community” and “Outreach” aspects of the University’s core values.
“Delaware Student University commitment to community programs like Pathways 2 Apprenticeships and life-long learning demonstrates the fabric of the university’s greatness,” said Dr. Darren Blackston, interim Executive Director of Adult and Continuing Education.
Anyone interested in the P2A program can go to www.p2adelaware.org and scroll down to the bottom of the home page to the “Contact Us” section, fill out the form and submit it. Or interested persons can call (302) 518-5681.