PIT2Work Offers Career Path in Skilled Trades to Underserved

Terminal project part of effort to increase construction workers in Western Pa.

By Rocco Pacell

Published February 26, 2024

Read Time: 3 mins


Antoine Long had been introduced to several career paths in high school but never found one that interested and challenged him. Edging closer to 30, he wanted something greater for himself and his children. He was still searching for his future.

Two of Long’s friends had recently graduated from PIT2Work, an apprenticeship training program at Pittsburgh International Airport, where they gained firsthand construction trade experience with various unions.

Long saw an opportunity and applied.

“I would recommend the program to anybody,” he said two months after graduating PIT2Work with an apprenticeship. He is now helping to build PIT’s new terminal as part of the airport’s Terminal Modernization Program (TMP).

“I feel like I don’t just have a job — I have a career,” he said.

Regional impact

Western Pennsylvania is projected to have a shortage of skilled trade workers by next year, according to the Associated General Contractors of America. This mirrors national statistics that cite a sizeable deficiency in construction and other skilled trade workers, particularly among workers of color.

Less than 7 percent of U.S. construction professionals are Black, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

PIT2Work is part of an ambitious workforce development initiative launched last year by the Allegheny County Airport Authority, aimed at boosting employment in the construction trades and other industries.

In partnership with Introduction to Construction Trades and Partner4Work, two non-profit workforce development programs, the five-week apprenticeship training program provides those underrepresented within the construction industry with certifications, experience and a path toward a new career.

Key to the program is the TMP, which has boosted the airport’s regional economic impact.

Over the four years from groundbreaking to its opening in 2025, the $1.57 billion project will have created more than 14,300 jobs for the Pittsburgh region, including 5,548 construction jobs, and generated an estimated $2.5 billion in economic activity.

Once completed, the project will include a new terminal, customer service building, green spaces and parking garage. The terminal will be connected directly to PIT’s airside terminal, where gates and restaurants are located, a welcome contrast to the nearly one-half mile distance between them that travelers must currently negotiate.

Antoine Long (Ieft) applied to PIT2Work with about one year of experience in the construction industry. Long was accepted into PIT2Work in October 2023 and graduated from the program in November. (Photo by Beth Hollerich)

Job training engine

The construction site provides participants like Long with an immersive learning experience where they can both visualize and participate in the opportunities available to them upon graduating from PIT2Work.

Participants visit local union apprenticeship centers for further training and guidance on available career pathways. They leave the PIT2Work program with their OSHA 10-Hour construction site safety certification, greatly increasing their ability to be hired.

Long applied to PIT2Work with about one year of experience in the construction industry. He was accepted and began the program in October 2023.

“These five weeks can definitely change your life,” he said. “They can give you a life-changing opportunity and a career you can go for.”

After graduating last November, Long was offered an apprenticeship with the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers Local 37. He was hired by Phoenix Roofing, a contractor on the TMP site, just weeks later.

“He was the first person that I came across that had those extra qualifications,” said Thomas Martin, resource manager with Phoenix Roofing.

Long’s story is an example of how an airport can become a force for encouragement, reinvention and opportunity.

“I can tell [my two sons] first I started training here, then I moved to working here, and now I’ve seen the process of it getting all finished up,” he said. “It will be super awesome to let them know that Dad did that or Dad helped with that.”

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