As more retiring electricians, plumbers, and other tradespeople hang up their hats and tool belts for the last time, the construction sector is counting on a new generation of skilled workers to keep projects on track and contractor industries thriving.
The US masonry contracting industry, which according to First Research includes about 18,000 establishments with combined annual revenue of about $18 billion, is helping to pave the way through a unique program.
Twenty-somethings are discovering the craft of masonry work and launching new careers, thanks to internships offered by cemetery operators. Woodlawn Cemetery, a National Historic Landmark located in the Bronx, has enlisted the help of interns to caulk, grind stones, and repoint mortar.
Instead of working in fast-food restaurants or as cashiers, masonry interns are entrusted in restoring multimillion-dollar historical memorials. Both male and female crew members are paid $10 an hour while learning a new trade.
These young New Yorkers are bringing home more than a paycheck.
While the cemetery’s nonprofit partner, Woodlawn Conservancy, offers nine-week internships in masonry restoration to defray the costs of monument maintenance, organizers say the program has launched full-time positions, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Program collaborators include the World Monuments Fund, the International Masonry Institute, and the educational arm of the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers.
Industry Impact — As a way to replace retirees, masonry contractors may consider creating internship programs and training young, promising workers in their craft.
Tracking the moves of consumer products makers since 2003, Catherine Colbert is an industry researcher, writer, and blogger. Previously, she spent ample time in magazine publishing, technical writing, ad copywriting, medical writing, and marketing. Follow her on Twitter.