Posted February 4, 2015

Temple helps high school students gain access to trades

Betsy Manning
University plumber Jason Noel shows mentee Jamer Jackson how to fix a pipe system. Jamer spent the day shadowing professional tradesmen from the university’s Facilities Management Department.

Most people never take time to think about how the lights we use every day are powered by electricity flowing through circuits hidden behind walls. But for Jamer Jackson, the science behind the technology that fuels daily life is fascinating.

“I’ve never seen anything this complicated,” said 19-year-old Jackson while surveying the wires, toggles and switches in an engineering and science classroom.  

Jackson is one of four YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter School students who will shadow members of a Temple facilities crew during six week intervals as part of a mentor program established by Temple’s Offices of Government, Community and Public Affairs and Facilities Management.

During the program, YouthBuild students will rotate among campus electricians, mechanics, plumbers and other trade people in order to get exposure to all roles and learn what it takes to build a career.

Located at North Broad Street and Girard Avenue, the non-traditional high school helps students complete their diplomas while gaining career experience and exposure to different trades. After graduating, some students go on to practice a trade while others like Jackson plan to complete post-secondary degrees.

“Our school is open to 18 to 21-year-old students who are seeking a second chance to complete their education,” said Stephanie Waller, training and placement coordinator for YouthBuild.

“Some are parents, some have experienced homelessness and other setbacks, but they are all very intentional about wanting to change their lives,” she said.

Students interested in the program can inquire through teachers and counselors at YouthBuild. The program was created to increase the number of minorities working in professional trades.

“We wanted to develop a program that would connect local students to the campus in a way that would help them gain the training and skills they need to enter the workplace,” said Beverly Coleman, assistant vice president of community relations and economic development at Temple.

Jackson hopes to return to Temple to study engineering.

“Jamer came to us pretty quiet and he has blown us all away with his willingness to get involved in the opportunities that come his way,” said Waller. “Every time I talk to him about his experience his response is ‘I just want to learn as much as I can and meet all the people I can so that I can figure out what I want to do.’”

Meeting the right people and finding a mentor is what it takes to learn and grow, said Jason Noel, Temple plumber and a mentor for YouthBuild students at Temple.

“I was part of an apprenticeship program before I became a professional plumber,” said Noel. “It’s important to find mentors early in order to get a real picture of what it takes to have a career in the field.”