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The Construction User 2.0 - Episode 28: TradesFutures and Recruitment

July 9 2024
Labor Management, Labor Relations, Management, Podcast, Related Organizations, Training

In this episode, Kirk speaks with Nicole Schwartz, Executive Director of TradesFutures, exploring her career journey and the organization’s mission to bolster the trades. They delve into strategies for enhancing recruitment and retention, addressing labor challenges within the construction industry.

Nicole shares her unique career journey, transitioning from a Spanish teacher and pastry chef to her current role in workforce development. We delve into the mission and initiatives of Trades Futures, including apprenticeship readiness programs, childcare pilots, and partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Nicole’s diverse background provides valuable insights into how her varied experiences influence her work in promoting inclusivity and opportunity within the construction industry.

In another segment, we discuss the multifaceted aspects of workforce development and apprenticeship programs. We highlight the importance of local connections with building trades councils to align training with regional job opportunities, ensuring a robust job pipeline.

Nicole Schwartz, Executive Director of TradesFutures, brings extensive experience in education and workforce development to the position. Formerly NABTU’s Apprenticeship Readiness Program Coordinator, she oversaw 200 ARP programs nationwide. Prior to that, Schwartz taught Social Studies and Spanish in Milwaukee Public Schools and led initiatives in Restorative Practices and Positive Behavior Interventions. She holds a BA in International Affairs and Spanish for the Professions from Marquette University and a Master’s in Education from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Schwartz transitioned to workforce development in 2015, focusing on creating pathways to sustainable careers.

The Construction User 2.0 podcast is brought to you by The Association of Union Constructors (TAUC). Your host, Kirk Westwood, is Director of Marketing for TAUC. Kirk has helped many organizations tell their stories as a photographer, blogger, web-streamer, and consultant. In each episode, we’ll explore the latest labor trends, industry insights, and important issues in the world of construction. Our guests are industry leaders, subject matter experts, and innovative visionaries discussing how we are building the ‘world of tomorrow.’ TAUC is made up of more than 1,800 contractor companies that utilize union labor for their projects, as well as local contractor associations and vendors in the industrial maintenance and construction fields. TAUC’s mission is to act as an advocate for union contractors and enhance cooperation between all parties to achieve the successful completion of construction projects.

Discussion points:

  • NABTU’s diversity initiatives
  • Nicole’s journey includes teaching Spanish and time as a pastry chef
  • Where TradesFutures finds people
  • What the apprenticeship readiness programs are all about
  • Childcare pilot programs – Milwaukee and NYC
  • Childcare is key for full employment for communities
  • You have to know where the industry stands now in order to get to new levels
  • Changing scenarios in the industry require recalibration
  • Looking forward into the future of TradesFutures programs
  • DC focuses on making contracts easier, whatever the tech


Nicole Schwartz

Trades Futures

TAUC Construction Leadership Conference May 2024

Kirk Westwood TAUC

TAUC Website

Kirk Westwood LinkedIn

The Construction User Magazine back issues

Milwaukee Tool

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