The Andromeda Community Initiative (ACI) is an employer created nonprofit workforce development program that serves the needs of the building restoration and construction industry by providing a job ready workforce through hands-on and certification based construction training, job placement and vocational support. Building restoration is an estimated $1.5 billion sub-sector of the New York City construction industry, employing 20,000 laborers in work maintaining and repairing the building envelope, external façade, roof and related features. In New York City, this work is not merely triggered by normal wear and tear. Rather, building owners of “major buildings” (those over 6 stories) are required by law to get physical inspections every five years, which in turn trigger mandated repair work on unsafe conditions. The required timetable for inspection and necessary follow up work creates a never-ending, virtually recession proof cycle of demand for qualified and Department of Buildings (DOB) credentialed workers.
Created in 2018 by employers within the restoration field, ACI works to both meet this statutorily created demand and connect underserved New Yorkers — individuals coming off of public assistance, individuals in criminal justice reentry, over age and under credited young adults and similar groups all facing barriers to meaningful employment — to the career pathways offered by the building restoration and construction sector. “I am motivated by the opportunity to create access points for individuals to support themselves and pursue productive roles in society.” said David Nidus, Executive Director of ACI. “I am particularly excited by programs that remove barriers to entry, avoid artificial barriers, and provide coaching and development that allow people to obtain a living wage. We work hard to make sure ACI delivers on this mission.”
Through its Masonry Restoration Program, ACI works to qualify participants as “Site Safety Training-Ready” based on DOB standards. This makes them eligible to work on major buildings. Individuals earn multiple DOB and OSHA certifications allowing them to obtain DOB site safety cards. They also develop hands on experience with a wide variety of skills needed for entry-level functions of mason, laborer, roofer, helper or similar roles on a restoration or new construction job site. The program takes place at ACI’s state of the art training center complete with multistory mock ups of building facades, supported and suspended scaffolds, and brick and mortar work stations. These components, plus the many years of construction experience of its staff, are all designed to give individuals simulated “real world” building restoration work experience.
ACI utilizes a five week cohort structure to deliver its masonry training. Work is carried out in partnership with its job readiness partners who screen clients, provide soft skills, and help defray a portion of the skills training and certification costs. As an employer created entity, ACI has significant access to leaders in the building restoration industry. It uses its connections to place individuals through a dedicated placement professional and industry job fairs.
Other services offered by ACI include construction focused ESOL for incumbent workers and intermediary work pairing partners with transitional work programs and employers willing to provide in-house training and other business functions.
ACI is interested in partnering with workforce service providers whose clients could benefit from its trainings. Interested organizations can contact David Nidus at Andromeda Community Initiative.