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WEEKDAY MAGAZINE – Let’s build Career Opportunities for Bronx Families

The author at a local construction site. Mr. Hall is a participant of Building Skills NY, an organization that helps residents gain access to careers in the construction industry. This week, Building Skills NY announced a partnership with Hostos Community College and New York Building Foundation to help more residents access construction safety training. (photo courtesy of Building Skills New York)

by Rahdell Hall

August 21, 2018

I lost my job as a carpenter at perhaps the most inopportune time. With my second daughter on the way, I was out of a job, with no way to support my growing family.

I decided to try my hand at construction, hoping to find a job near home in the Bronx to avoid spending on a commute. I had been going from site to site searching for a job when I saw a flyer on the street from Building Skills New York.

Building Skills provides career opportunities in construction for New Yorkers like me, who don’t have the easiest access to the industry. They were professional and organized, offering me advice and training. They put me at ease during an incredibly stressful time, and they gave me the confidence I needed to secure the job they found for me. And within just a week of connecting with them, I began working on a 9-month contract as a Mason Laborer at St. Barnabas Hospital – just a short walk from home. I was recently transferred to a site in Brooklyn, but I am able to carpool with my employer from the Bronx.

I now earn $17 per hour as a construction worker – way more than I did in my previous job – and I finally feel financially secure. I have worked with a lot of recruiters, and Building Skills got me a pay bump that far surpassed any of them. Now I do not have to live paycheck to paycheck while trying to care for my family.

In less than a year of finding that flyer and connecting with Building Skills, I have earned multiple certifications and found two good-paying construction jobs. This May I welcomed my second baby girl, and I am newly engaged. To top it off, I’m interested in getting my commercial driver’s license, and I plan on eventually going back to school to become an entrepreneur. Building Skills gave me the opportunity to change my life.

When I turn on the news, I see all these stories saying the economy has gotten better, and that more people have jobs than ever in the past decade – but that’s not the story around my neighborhood. I know my story is not unique. The reality is that there are a lot of New Yorkers in underserved communities with high rates of poverty and unemployment, especially in the Bronx, in need of a job that offers a pathway to financial stability. Building Skills is helping to bring local construction jobs to our communities. To me and many like me, they have offered access to training, broader career pathways and economic advancement so that I can be in a better position to give my daughters a brighter future.

I’m inspired to succeed by and for my daughters, and I know I will get there because Building Skills has my back.

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Rahdell Hall is a Bronx resident and participant in Building Skills New York who successfully completed an assignment at St. Barnabas Hospital and is currently working in a construction site in Brooklyn.

To submit writing for publication on WEEKDAY MAGAZINE, click here.  Fiction, non-fiction, commentary, news, news analysis, and poetry are welcome.  Bronx slant always preferred.

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