By David Pendered
As the United States pauses to honor workers on Labor Day, one Atlanta mother is thankful and proud that she’s on her way to becoming a pipefitter.
Jacquelyn Treadville-Samuels is changing careers after working as a forensic science technician in Atlanta and Alabama. She lost her taste for that work after caring for her cancer-stricken mother in Alabama. She returned to Atlanta and became homeless while looking for a job.
“This is a dream come true,” Treadville-Sanders said outside the auditorium where members of Georgia Stand-Up had just applauded the first all-female class of pre-apprentice trainees in its Trade-Up program. “I’ve prayed for something like this, but I never knew is would be like this.”
Treadville-Samuels took a few moments outside the I.B.E.W. auditorium in downtown Atlanta to count her blessings. Even as she looks ahead to a good job that will enable her to provide for herself and her 8-year-old son, she’s contemplating how to give back to the community.
“I want to offer low-income housing for single parents because, if you’re not a husband and wife, you just can’t afford to buy a house,” Treadville-Samuels said.
“I want to go on and open my own business, and the only thing I ask is that I am able to take another woman under my wing and pay it forward,” she said.
“I want to teach our community that you can be better and do better, and there are people in our community who can help you do that,” she said. “There are so many people in our community who need an opportunity, or want an opportunity.”
Treadville-Sanders is enrolled in Georgia Trade-Up. It’s a pre-apprenticeship and workforce development program that teaches job-readiness skills to men and women who plan to enter construction trades apprenticeship programs or the construction industry. The program lasts eight weeks.
The all-female class in which she’s enrolled is funded by Goodwill Industries International. Goodwill, in turn, received the funding through the Department of Labor’s Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations program, according to Deborah Scott, executive director of Georgia Stand-Up and founder of Trade-Up.
Georgia was the only southern state to receive any of the $1.8 million the Labor Department announced in 2012. Goodwill received $300,000, the amount awarded each of the six programs nationwide, and promised to place at least 100 participants over the life of the two-year program into a registered apprenticeship program, according to a DOL statement.
These are good jobs in a field that’s anticipated to have labor shortages, Scott said. According to Scott, the Governor’s Office of Workforce Development has predicted openings for 82,000 skilled tradespersons by 2016. Some of those openings are due to workers who retired during the recession and aren’t expected to return to the field, Scott said.
Consider pipefitting, the trade Treadville-Sanders has chosen.
The pay is solid – an annual average of $46,660 in 2010 and the top 10 percent earned more than $79,920, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
According to the BLS, employment is expected rise by 26 percent for pipefitters, plumbers and steamfitters. That compares to a 23 percent increase in all construction trades and a 14 percent increase for all occupations.
Pipefitters install and maintain high-pressure pipes that typically carry chemicals, acids and gases in industrial settings and hospitals. Plumbers work with low-pressure water systems in homes, businesses and factories, according to the BLS.
This line of work suits Treadville-Sanders.
“I’ve always wanted to do this,” she said, before recalling the TV series named “This Old House.
“I used to have a crush on Bob Vila,” she said of the show’s former host.