PIT2Work Courses Delivering Results: Jobs

Graduates of award-winning program’s third class call it ‘life-changing’

By gmastrangelo

Published April 1, 2024

Read Time: 3 mins


The PIT2Work training program at Pittsburgh International Airport has earned national recognition and awards, but the ultimate measure of its success can be summed up in one word.


More than 91 percent of PIT2Work graduates from the first two classes are employed in the trades. In the most recent class, some participants were set to start working at new jobs right after the March 26 graduation ceremony. Many others had already signed on with local unions.

Carrie Francis was one of 14 graduates in the program’s third class. Francis learned about the program last November when she attended a local union trade convention.

That day changed her life, she said. Before starting PIT2Work, Francis said she felt stuck in a dead-end job that made her feel “unfulfilled and underappreciated.” Five weeks later, that’s all changed.

“This program isn’t just meant to bring you to a career,” Francis said. “This program is meant to make you the person you’re going to need to be for a better future.”

Francis isn’t alone in her assessment. Fellow student Troy Buefort said PIT2Work is meant for anyone who wants to change their life for the better, and Kaheem Tucker said the program gave him hope for his future.

Learning on site

PIT2Work is a five-week program hosted at PIT in partnership with Pittsburgh Gateways and Partner4Work. It gives participants the hands-on training they need to succeed in careers in the trades.

The program was kickstarted last year by PIT CEO Christina Cassotis and Chief Human Capital Officer Lisa Naylor. The new terminal project provided an opportunity for Western Pennsylvania residents looking to get involved with the trades to learn on the site of one of the biggest construction projects in the region.

“The Terminal Modernization Program is all about building the future of travel,” Cassotis said at the graduation ceremony. “But it’s really about, how do we build builders and buildings? How do we actually have more people benefit from everything that we do? Because, whether you fly or not, aviation matters to you.”

Earlier this month, Fast Company magazine awarded PIT the second spot in its list of the world’s Most Innovative Transportation Companies. The airport was recognized largely for leveraging the new terminal construction project to host PIT2Work.

Just a day before that ceremony, airport leadership traveled to Washington, D.C. to accept the annual W.O. Lawton Award from the National Association of Workforce Boards, given to PIT for striving to make its region’s workforce more vibrant.

PIT2Work’s third cohort poses for a group photo at the class’ commencement ceremony on March 26, 2024. (photo by Beth Hollerich)

Region full of opportunities

Pittsburgh is an ever-developing city, modernizing to meet the needs of its people, which opens up a world of career opportunities, especially in the trades.

State Sen. Jay Costa, a Democrat whose district includes parts of Allegheny County, attended a PIT2Work graduation ceremony for the first time, but he promised it wouldn’t be his last. As a staunch supporter of workforce development in Western Pennsylvania, he’s thrilled to see PIT2Work forging a new path for Its participants.

“We need to expand this program,” he said. “When you think about projects in our region, there’s so many other opportunities to bring young folks in who want to have a career path change.”

Fellow State Sen. Devlin Robinson, a Republican whose district includes PIT, agreed.

“You should be proud of yourselves,” he said to the group of graduates. “There’s a lot of development happening here in the region and across the state.”

He believes that the construction trades provide “truly meaningful work.”

Antoine Long, who graduated from the program last November, now works on the site of PIT’s new terminal project, and he takes pride in his work. He said that he’s excited to show his children the work he did on the new terminal: “They’ll be able to point to the roof of the giant structure and say, ‘Dad built that.’”

Cassotis says that’s what PIT2Work is all about: building something that supports the growth of the entire region.

“We need people who really get up every day and think I want to be part of something that is helping this whole community,” she said. “And what we want is for the whole community to benefit. Everybody.”

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