Cleveland Builds was created to connect motivated Clevelanders with career opportunities in construction where hard work and determination are rewarded. An aging workforce, diversification of the regional economy, and the educational system’s singular focus on college paths has created a growing skills shortage. Together, these factors threaten Greater Cleveland’s economic growth and prosperity by hindering employers who need motivated, skilled tradespersons as well as career seekers who often don’t realize or understand how to pursue the meaningful career opportunities that are right here in Greater Cleveland.

In response to this threat, Cleveland Builds provides a successful model of pre-employment education and training for job seekers to qualify for family-sustaining jobs in the construction trades. Modeled after Wisconsin’s BIG STEP Program, Cleveland Builds’ programs and services are tailored to address specific areas of need in the regional economy, including training and recruitment efforts that specifically benefit both our participants and the Cleveland workforce at large.

  • Program participants are more likely to find work and worked more months.

  • Program participants earn significantly more. While some of these gains can be attributed to working more hours, participants also earn significantly higher hourly wages.

  • Program participants are significantly more likely to get jobs that offer benefits.


  • Connect qualified individuals to training programs, apprenticeships, and careers that allow candidates to “earn while they learn”
  • Assessment of individual needs and strengths
  • Development of a plan of action to help participants secure employment
  • Providing test tutoring and other preparatory services (day and evening classes)
  • Placing participants in on-the-job training programs leading to construction-related apprenticeships
  • Arranging necessary classroom and hands-on training to prepare and place participants into higher-paying employment opportunities

Our Requirements

  • 18 years old
  • High school diploma/GED/HSED
  • Valid driver’s license
  • Must have reliable transportation


Cleveland Builds’ efficacy and influence depend upon meaningful collaboration with our partners:

  • Cleveland Building & Construction Trades Council: The Cleveland Building & Construction Trades Council is the umbrella organization for local unions working in the construction industry in the Greater Cleveland region.
  • Construction Employers Association: The Construction Employers Association of Cleveland represents the leading general contractors, construction managers and specialty contractors in Northeast Ohio.
  • National Electrical Contractors Association: The Greater Cleveland Chapter of NECA represents the best electrical contractors from the Cleveland area.
  • Mechanical & Plumbing Industry Council: The Mechanical and Plumbing Industry Council (MAPIC) is composed of the Mechanical Contractors’ Association of Cleveland (MCA); the Cleveland Plumbing Contractors’ Association, Inc. (CPCA); the Certified Pipe Welding Bureau of Cleveland, Inc. (CPWB); and the Mechanical Service Contractors Association (MSCA). These trade associations represent companies engaged in the plumbing and pipe fitting industry.
  • Northern Ohio Painting and Taping Contractors Association: The Northern Ohio Painting and Taping Contractors Association, (NOPTCA), is a trade association serving painting and decorating contractors to help improve their businesses through educational programs, local networking, and establishing industry standards.


Supported by public, private, and philanthropic investments, Cleveland Builds’ mission focuses on providing opportunity, training, and outreach to Clevelanders. Our team members are dedicated to developing the skills our workforce needs to participate meaningfully in the economy while ensuring that union contractors have the skilled workers they need to prosper and grow in a competitive global economy.

  • Dan Gallagher: IBEW, Local 38; Cleveland Building and Construction Trades Council
  • Shawn Gray: Plumbers, Local 55; Cleveland Building and Construction Trades Council
  • Terry Joyce: Laborers, Local 310; Cleveland Building and Construction Trades Council
  • Armando Francisco: Lake Erie Electric; Construction Employers Association
  • Tom Martin, Jr.: T.H. Martin, Inc.; Construction Employers Association
  • Tari Rivera; Regency Construction; Construction Employers Association
  • Tim Linville; Construction Employers Association
  • Dave Wondoloski; Cleveland Building and Construction Trades Council
  • Melissa Burrows, Ph. D.: City of Cleveland, Office of Equal Opportunity
  • Norm Edwards; American Center for Economic Equality
  • Kenny Torres; Gilbane Building Company

Union Construction Readiness Program

Our mission is to enhance quality construction contractors’ ability to recruit and develop a more diverse, qualified workforce in construction and other emerging sectors of the regional economy. We do so through educating and training motivated Clevelanders to pursue careers in the trades.

Cleveland Builds | Union Construction Readiness Program

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