Anthony Roberts considers the elevator repair mechanic career to be the “hidden gem” of the construction world.
“It’s one of the highest paid trades,” Roberts said. “By entering an apprenticeship it’s very possible to achieve family-sustaining wages. It’s important to let people who aren’t considering college know that you can have a very rewarding career in construction without a doing a bachelor’s degree.”
As an OSI fellow, Roberts will establish the Registered Apprenticeship Sponsor program, in which underemployed residents in Baltimore City will be trained through a pre-apprenticeship and placed into high-wage elevator repair careers. This project will focus on BIPOC individuals ages 17–24 who are at 125%–150% below poverty line.
A full-time elevator repair mechanic usually starts at a salary of about $22/hour in their first year—enough to lift them out of poverty. By the end of their apprenticeship, wages usually more than double to $50/hour.
“Just at that rate would immediately take someone who may be below the poverty line right into the middle class,” Roberts said. “That’s very impactful. All those things that follow poverty, like social determinants of health, could be eliminated by having that drastic change in income.”
Through the Registered Apprenticeship Sponsor program, 40 participants will join a 10-week pre-apprenticeship curriculum. During this time, the participants will not only learn about what an apprenticeship as an elevator repair mechanic involves, but the program leaders will also address any barriers to employment the participants experience. This assistance will include literacy and GED tutoring, childcare, driver’s license instruction, and substance abuse support.
During the second phase of the project, 10 participants will continue on to secure apprenticeships. As the participants begin their employment, Roberts’ program will continue to offer them support as needed.
“The participants can become homeowners, can create their own companies,” Roberts said. “Creating entrepreneurs out of this program can stimulate the economy in Baltimore City.”
He aspires to one day grow this program beyond the city limits.
“This can hopefully be a model that can spread and revolutionize the workforce development industry to create meaningful change for delivering people out of poverty and into the middle class,” Roberts said.