Happy Friday from the CCDI team! Always great to end the week with positive news so we couldn’t be more excited to introduce you to one of CCDI’s newest graduates, Shutaun Williams! Shutaun, age 20, recently was hired by Concrete Strategies as a first term apprentice carpenter after completing the Facilities Maintenance Pre-Apprenticeship program at St. Louis Job Corps this past March. He currently is working at Midway USA in Columbia, Missouri.

CCDI had the opportunity this week to catch up with Shutaun to talk about his experience at St. Louis Job Corps and the impact his instructor in the program has had on his life: “I got involved with Job Corps because after coming home from living with my dad out of town, I didn’t want to just not do anything, so I decided to check out the program because I heard a lot of good things about Job Corps. My experience there was good and the best thing about the program is that it is FREE!” We asked Shutaun how HBI/BCT instructor, Mr. Roosevelt Robinson, influenced his experience while participating in the Facilities and Maintenance program and he stated: “Mr. Robinson helped me and other students by always pushing us to do better and keep us on track. Making sure we get there on time, finishing what we’ve started and staying focused. Also, he opened my eyes to what I could receive as a reward by working hard and staying focused.” When asked what message he had for other young adults who might be thinking about getting into the industry, Shutaun told us: “Always stay focused, work hard, change your mentality and don’t worry about anybody but yourself and your family.” CCDI would not be possible without the dedication and passion our partner teachers invest into their programs and into their students. They truly are the reason for a lot of our graduate’s ongoing success. We thank each and every one of you for the lessons you create and the lasting values you instill! It takes a village.

CCDI also had the opportunity to catch up with Mr. Robinson who invited us to tour the Job Corps campus and meet the rest of the construction education team in their different trade pathway classrooms. Mr. Robinson told us:

“Being a vocational instructor in the St. Louis Job Corps, you are more than just an instructor. You’re a counselor, mentor, role model. Being a former student [of Job Corps], I am also a success story and so much more. [As an instructor] You have to have patience, be willing to help and learn from people from different parts and walks of life. So this job takes passion and with passion you can tell what the best solution is for the students.

When Shutaun entered into my program, I was like “wow this young man gets it!” He understands and knows what he wants. Students like Shutaun make my job easy. He was easy to instruct and took the trade serious. Shutaun would help push the other students which let me know he was a leader. I told him if he let me, I would do what it would take to help get him where he wanted to be and he is not the settling type.

I was introduced to Rachel Boemer from the CCDI program over the phone by our Deputy Director Ms. Armstrong and after the first phone call I wanted to meet in person. I had so many questions and I knew our program has so much to offer. After meeting with Rachel, I knew another HBI student in my program, Rashaad Smith, would also be a perfect match for CCDI. [Job Corps and CCDI] Both agreed to form a partnership with the same intentions which focus on the young people and helping to diversify the construction industry. With that being said, on behalf of HBI/St. Louis Job Corps, we would like to thank Tom Sieckhaus, CCDI President, Rachel Boemer, CCDI Program Director and Clayco for giving St. Louis Job Corps a chance to show what our program offers. We look forward for future endeavors!”

Our new partnership with St. Louis Job Corps will be another strong and diverse pipeline of talent to help fill the need in the industry. St. Louis Job Corps has 15 Career Technical Training Programs and six (6) are in the Construction Trades. The program also draws students from St. Louis City, St. Louis County and St. Charles County; the majority of Job Corps participants hail from St. Louis City and north St. Louis County, the areas of CCDI’s focus. We also are thrilled that our longtime partner at North Technical High School in Special School District, Dr. Dave Baker, recently took on a new position at Job Corps. “As the new Business and Community Liaison for the St. Louis Job Corps, I hope to develop new business/industry partnerships while strengthening those that already exist. CCDI is at the top of my list based on my existing relationship with Tom and Rachel and my knowledge of their commitment to CCDI’s vital mission”, Dr. Baker stated in a recent email to us.

Dr. Baker also spoke on our program and the impact it has since 2015:

“CCDI has become integral in the northern portion of the St. Louis region in regard to ensuring a diverse and competent workforce for the construction industry. CCDI has taken on the task of connecting young men and women interested in the field of construction to the companies who will mentor and eventually hire them. Young people need validation of their hard work and good decisions; CCDI and its partners are providing that validation.”

CCDI hopes to continue to build these vital partnerships with educational institutions, contractors, subcontractors, other nonprofits and organizations with like missions. CCDI is focused on helping to connect ALL the vast resources in the construction industry here in St. Louis into a functioning and productive ecosystem where we all work together. Together, we can make the changes we so desperately need to see in our industry and in our communities. Together, we will help to make more stories like Shutaun’s come to life for the youth who are the future workforce and backbone of our great city. WE are all better together.