Building a Career: Missouri Apprentice Ready Program

Kandice RileyAFL-CIO, Community Engagement, Education

United Way of the Ozarks is dedicated to helping our community members get jobs, earn better incomes, and become self-sufficient.

United Way of the Ozarks is sharpening our focus on upstream, root causes of social issues in our community. These efforts include striving to reduce or eliminate barriers to education, workforce training, and jobs. We will help address the skills gap in our labor force and fund solutions that help individuals become self-sufficient.

The Missouri Apprentice Ready Program is an example of our effort to help our community members get jobs, earn better incomes, and access the resources they need to not only survive, but thrive.

The Missouri Apprentice Ready Program is a 5-week training course through the Missouri Works Initiative, a non-profit organization affiliated with the Missouri AFL-CIO. Through a collaborative partnership with the Missouri Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development, and as part of the Missouri Apprentice Ready initiative, the program offers an introduction to the construction industry to qualified participants in Springfield. The goal of the initiative is to create an industry-recognized point of entry into the construction trades for traditionally underrepresented groups to create a more equitable, inclusive and diverse workforce while increasing the number of Missourians participating in registered construction apprenticeship programs.
Impact of Hands-on Training

The Missouri Apprentice Ready Program class members participate in hands-on training and learn from industry experts. Participants practice using equipment and machines, particular to the different trades. Gaining hands-on experience is pivotal in learning and beginning to start developing the needs and expectations of the specific trade.

Participants of the Missouri Apprentice Ready Program gaining hands-on experience at Plumbers and Pipefitters Local #178 Training Center.

North American’s Building Trades Unions

The Missouri Apprentice Ready Program utilizes the NABTU MC3 curriculum. Representing more than 3 million professionals in the United States and Canada, the North America Building Trades Unions seeks to bring new workers into the construction industry and partners with various boards, institutions and stakeholders to produce safe, trained, and skilled craft workers. The NABTU curriculum seeks to teach students the necessary skills to apply for a registered apprenticeship program, as well as engage with labor leaders through state-of-the-art experience and programs.

Doug Foley with the Missouri AGC teaches OSHA and CPR Training to participants of the program.

Participants experience classroom instruction as well as a tour of the apprenticeship training facilities throughout Southwest Missouri. The following union apprenticeship programs are represented during the 5-week program:


Better Together

Participants learn the history of the AFL-CIO and United Way Partnership, which provides information about resources available to program participants and union members.

United Way of the Ozarks is dedicated to our partnership with organized labor. We believe in the power of collaboration and strive to be the convener of resources. By bridging our knowledge of resources in the community, United Way of the Ozarks provides recruitment and connections to resources during and after the program.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

United Way of the Ozarks strives to be a model of DEI in all aspects of our work. The goal of the Missouri Apprentice Ready Program in our community aligns entirely with our emphasis on embracing diversity, equity and inclusion and inviting others in our Ozark community to as well.

Dr. Juan Meraz, assistant vice president for diversity and inclusion at Missouri State University graciously gave his time and knowledge to teach the impact of safe and welcoming workplaces, as well as learn the tools needed to foster an inclusive environment. Dr. Meraz administered the United Way’s United Academy for Inclusion and Belonging, a seven-hour course training on helping the Springfield area become a more diverse and inclusive community. United Way of the Ozarks supports the emphasis the Missouri Apprentice Ready Program puts on identifying and understanding the impact of discrimination on individuals and the workplace, and how it is our responsibility to create awareness.


The world is changing. Our community is changing. United Way of the Ozarks is changing with it.

We are honored to serve as a resource to those in the program and program graduates. Our AFL-CIO Community Services Liaison is motivated to connect cohort members to partner nonprofits and community resources that can help participants fulfill their requirements of the program, assist with basic needs, and prepare them for their future careers.

An opportunity for the community 

Entrance to the free pre-apprentice program is by application. Candidates for the program may be un- or underemployed, minorities, women and other underrepresented groups within the construction industry. Four programs are planned each year. The next cohort start date is October 17th, with applications being accepted through October 12th. 

To learn more about participation requirements, preferred credentials and the application process, visit the Missouri Works Initiative.