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Nashville’s building boom has created a desperate need for workers in the skilled construction trades. To help fill that need and provide people with an opportunity for a stable career, the Catholic Labor Network and Catholic Charities of Tennessee are working with area construction trade unions to promote an apprenticeship readiness program.
The apprenticeship readiness program, called Music City Construction Careers or MC3, includes two weeks of classes and hands-on instruction in a wide variety of construction trades. At the successful completion of the readiness program, participants will be able to apply for a paid apprenticeship with one of the construction trade unions, explained Aimee Shelide-Mayer, the local representative of the Catholic Labor Network.
“Catholic Charities USA has partnered with the Catholic Labor Network to build connections locally with Catholic Charities like the one in Nashville and these MC3 programs so clients of Catholic Charities can be notified of this opportunity through workforce development,” Shelide-Mayer said.
“Other cities have been sending a lot of their clients through the program,” she said. “We’re hoping to recreate that in Nashville. Across the whole agency, caseworkers could refer their clients to the program.”
Shelide-Mayer also has been reaching out to individual parishes to spread the word about the program.
“One of the key principles of Catholic social teaching is the dignity of work and the rights of workers,” she said. “We would love to see Catholic parishioners participate in this program, as well as Catholic Charities clients.”
There will be an information session about the pre-apprenticeship program at 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 13, at the Nashville Electrical Joint Apprenticeship Training Center at 310 Fesslers Lane in Nashville. At the information session, participants will hear from instructors, graduates and apprentices about the training and will be able to fill out an application for the pre-apprenticeship program.
Applicants for the pre-apprenticeship program, which is a joint effort of the Central Labor Council of Nashville and Middle Tennessee and area building trades unions, must be a minimum of 18 years of age, present verification of a high school diploma or GED certificate, have reliable transportation, and be able to perform the work of the trade. They will undergo interviews on Jan. 21 and Jan. 22.
The pre-apprenticeship program will run from Jan. 27 through Feb. 7, 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The 120-hour program gives participants basic knowledge about construction safety, the industry and its tools, blueprint reading and construction math, financial literacy, diversity, and workers’ rights on the job.
Participants also will be introduced to apprenticeship opportunities offered by the local building trade unions, including: boilermakers, bricklayers, carpenters, cement masons, electricians, elevator constructors, heat and frost insulators/asbestos, ironworkers, laborers, millwrights, operating engineers, painters and glaziers, plumbers and pipefitters, sprinkler fitters, sheet metal workers and teamsters.
Organizers hope to offer the program again in June, either for two weeks during the day or for six weeks in the evenings, Shelide-Mayer said. “That would be ideal for recent high school graduates,” she said.
“We know that stable jobs lead to stable home and family life, and upholding the dignity of the family and the human person is at the core of Catholic social tradition,” Shelide-Mayer said. “By offering individuals a pathway to a stable career with benefits and protection, we hope to raise their quality of life and stability as a family.”
For more information about the program, contact Shelide-Mayer at or 615-669-4694, or contact or 615-212-8546.

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