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Bank of Labor funds financial literacy curriculum

Training helps pre-apprentices and apprentices become stable workers

A NEW TRAINING program funded by the Bank of Labor is helping union apprentices in the construction industry become better able to manage their money.

The curriculum, developed by the North American Building Trades Unions, launched in September 2015 and is a part of NABTU’s Apprenticeship Readiness Program.

Since its launch, the new curriculum has been well-received by apprenticeship training instructors. One hundred NABTU pre-apprenticeship locations across the U.S. and three international unions, including the Boilermakers, are teaching it, according to Bridget Martin, Special Assistant to the International President, Bank Sector Operations. That number is expected to grow.

“Many people have difficulty managing their money,” said Martin. “This is particularly true for entry-level construction workers who get irregular paychecks. They need to be taught life skills to survive in our industry.” She said many drop out of the trade due to financial concerns.

Some of the issues that plague union construction workers include: cyclical work, downtime between jobs, work interruptions due to weather, and receiving pay only when they’re working. Another challenge for apprentices is in learning how to budget their money, starting with their first paycheck. “Most have never seen that much money at one time. The first thing they do is buy a truck, boat or motorcycle,” said Martin. “Then in six months they can’t make the payments.”

Tom Kriger, Ph.D., director of research and development for NABTU and a member of the team that developed the curriculum, said he’d been looking for a financial piece to add to the Apprentice Readiness Program but had found nothing. He was pleased with the grant from the Bank of Labor so one could be created.

Kriger said the program teaches a wide range of financial information including budgeting, when to use credit, how to get out of debt, long-term financial planning and saving for retirement.

“Our goal is to really develop a sense of financial literacy and mastery of financial competency on the part of apprentices,” said Kriger.

This program is available at no charge to any affiliate of NABTU. Apprenticeship directors that are interested in the curriculum should contact Kriger at NABTU at (202) 347-1461.