The HOW Group Partners with UCD on Path into the Trades

While The HOW Group has only been a member for less than a year, its partnership with UCD is creating a pathway to the skilled trades for talented West Philadelphians, and illustrating the potential that our relationships with members have to evolve for the benefit of the neighborhood.

The HOW Group is an all-in-one real estate firm based in Conshohocken, PA, which counts property management, investment, and general contracting among its slate of services. Through HOW Charities, the company focuses on giving back and making homeownership a reality for deserving low-income families. At the intersection of these priorities, The HOW Group and UCD found common ground in our shared desire to rethink the ways that jobseekers tap into employment in the skilled trades. The result is a nine-week training program offered through the West Philadelphia Skills Initiative (WPSI) designed to eliminate traditional barriers to entry into the trades. The pilot cohort began in August of 2019 and includes:

  • Three weeks of WPSI’s world class foundational skills training, which tackles topics such as communication, conflict resolution, and goal setting
  • Four weeks of technical and safety training during which participants earn OSHA 10 certifications and learn construction theory and fundamentals through hands-on projects, including building a 7’ x 12’ shed and interior office
  • Two weeks of on-the-job training at HOW Group’s charity house, where participants put all their accumulated knowledge to work building a house that will eventually be purchased by a low-income family

At the end of the program, graduates will interview for open positions at The HOW Group and its subcontractors, with the aim of securing employment in the field. This nascent pipeline provides tradespeople both an entry point to this high-demand profession and a broad survey of the opportunities available in the skilled trades.

“There are some participants in the program right now that have a little bit of skill in a couple different disciplines,” said Tom McHale, Director of Operations for The HOW Group. “Some people [have said], ‘Hey, I have a strong electrical background – that’s what I want to pursue’ or ‘I have experience installing sprinkler systems and feel confident in that path.’”

Still, McHale shared that this isn’t the case for all of the participants in the program. The technical skills training has allowed some of the participants with fewer years’ experience to be exposed to a variety of disciplines so they can set their own career path with confidence.

While WPSI and The HOW Group envisioned this pilot as an opportunity to provide participants with a broad overview of the opportunities available within the trades, a successful trial run opens the door for many possibilities down the line.

With WPSI’s track record of excellence and The HOW Group’s commitment to providing access for well-trained and enthusiastic graduates, this program is poised to add many valuable assets to the skilled trades labor pool in the coming weeks.