PHOENIX — A career that is as solid as the concrete they are pouring.
The City of Phoenix is offering a new, unique opportunity on Valley streets where participants can make the roads safer while getting paid to train.
"I've learned a lot of stuff, like how to use the jackhammers... how to lay asphalt, how to mix concrete... also learned how to drive the Bobcat," said Ryan Finch.
Finch was open to trying something new. He is used to fixing 'hairy' situations and cleaning up.
"I used to be a dog groomer... yeah," Finch laughed. "And I switched over to do this."
He is now paving, quite literally, a very different career path for himself.
Ryan is one of the first in the Street Maintenance Worker Apprenticeship Program with the City of Phoenix.
City officials say this is a partnership between the City of Phoenix Street Transportation Department and Laborers' International Union of North America (LIUNA), Local 777.
"I live right in this area, and I feel privileged to be able to work on this," Finch said.
A friend sent him the link to a mandatory information session where he learned no previous experience was necessary for him to start getting paid, which made his family so proud.
"They're really excited for me," Finch said. "We were all praying about it a lot and I just feel super blessed to be able to come into work for the city of Phoenix... work my way up, you know?"
Nicholas Ramirez is a supervisor with the Phoenix Street Maintenance Department and is the Training Coordinator for this new program.
"The way the apprentice program is structured is it's a two-year apprenticeship program," Ramirez explained. "Which is a 4,000-hour course."
Ramirez said this process really helps streamline talent while creating a new skilled workforce from the ground up.
Participants spend some time in the classroom, then they put what they have learned into practice.
Workers are earning about $17 an hour while they are out training. They can also expect raises every six months.
By the time they complete the program, they will be making more than $20 an hour. Their benefits include a retirement plan, sick leave, medical coverage, etc. all start while training with the city.
"We're looking for people... that want a future," Ramirez described. "This is not just a job. It's a career."
This training program is a pipeline to employment, which also means more staff to deal with the miles and miles of streets that need repairs, paving, and upgrades to make the road safer.
The program can also assist participants in getting a commercial driver's license.
City officials tell ABC15 that they are actively recruiting and ask interested individuals to call 602-495-2410 or email email@example.com with their name, email, and phone number to get more information.
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Have a road issue or a question for the Operation Safe Roads team? Call 833-AZ-ROADS or email firstname.lastname@example.org.