WATCH: Award-Winning PIT2Work Celebrates Fourth Graduating Class

Program participants ready to embark on new career paths

By Rocco Pacella & Julie Bercik

Published June 10, 2024

Read Time: 2 mins


52. And 90.

Those are the latest numbers from the PIT2Work pre-apprenticeship program, which just celebrated the graduation of its fourth class.

That adds up to 52 graduates, with an average completion rate well over 90 percent.

PIT2Work, a first-of-its-kind airport workforce development initiative, provides certifications, career mentoring, hands-on training on the construction site of PIT’s new airport and introductions to numerous trade unions.

The 13 graduates gathered with family and friends, program partners, ACAA team members, trade union representatives and special guest state Rep. La’Tasha Mayes (D-24th District) last Friday to mark the completion of their five-week training.

“This group of PIT2Work graduates, like them all, has been amazing,” said Alicia Booker, director of Workforce Development at PIT. “We have two participants graduating today who already have jobs—they’re going to work on Monday. That wouldn’t be possible without their dedication.”

PIT2Work is offered in collaboration with Partner4Work, TradesFutures and Pittsburgh Gateways, which administers Introduction to the Construction Trades.

“I am so thankful for this class,” said new graduate and student speaker Lemuel Coleman. “We all came together [with] different experiences, different backgrounds, different challenges, but the same goal… the same goal of success.”

Literacy Pittsburgh also partners with PIT2Work for training and to alleviate any mathematical or language barriers participants might encounter.

“We are privileged to be part of a program like this where we can see directly what the outcome is for students in terms of employment and qualifications,” said James Fagg, manager of Partner Programs at Literacy Pittsburgh.

The ceremony’s welcoming remarks were delivered by Booker and Chaquita Barnett, program director at Introduction to Construction Trades.

“We started PIT2Work out as a vision and now it’s a reality,” Barnett said before the ceremony. “We have a lot of folks who have gone through this program who are now working and making real wages. We always see a big change in all our students from day one to this day, their graduation.”

Participants also heard from Hema Menon-Grant, senior vice president of human resources at PIT, Jillian Klinar, keynote speaker and senior product specialist at Innergy, and fellow students before receiving their certifications, safety gear and PIT2Work hard hats.

The graduation of a fourth PIT2Work cohort comes at a time when the program recently received acclaim as a Fast Company 2024 World Changing Ideas Awards honoree. Prior to that, PIT was also recognized by Fast Company as one the Most Innovative Companies in Transportation partially because of the PIT2Work initiative.

A fifth cohort is expected to begin later this summer, welcoming a new group of participants eager to enrich their lives through all that PIT2Work offers.

Graduates from the fourth PIT2Work cohort pose for a group photo following a ceremony to mark the completion of their five-week training on June 7, 2024. (Photo by Beth Hollerich)

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