EWDD YouthSource participant Brian Phillips, Jr, graduates from the the HireLAX Construction Apprenticeship Readiness Program
The Youth Opportunity Movement (YOM), Watts YouthSource Center celebrated the graduation of participant Brian Phillips from the HireLAX Apprenticeship Readiness Program (ARP), an 8-week course that prepares students for careers in construction.

“Most of the people that I have seen who have graduated from high school have gone on from doing small jobs,” said Brian, 18. “I wanted to do something big, that’s gonna last, a career.”

Brian grew up in Watts, recently graduated from Gardena High School and had started studying at El Camino College in Torrance when his father told him about the program.

“I was going to school for business. I finished one semester. I stopped going because I ended up working because I needed money,” he said. “That’s when I heard about the HireLAX program and I joined that.”

During the two-month training program, Brian earned certifications in CPR and first aid and worked on the physical conditioning necessary to lift cinder blocks, wood planks and sandbags. Brian is in the process of getting a badge to work at LAX and is awaiting a sponsor to join the construction trades. His hope is to get a job working in sheet metal or as a laborer, where he will be exposed to different tasks every day.

“I want to be able to do a project and one day say, ‘I built that,’” he said.

His advice for future HireLAX trainees?

“Be dedicated, motivated, that’s really all that it takes,” he said. “If you’re motivated or dedicated to the program you should be able to pass it or succeed. There’s different people there to help.”

EWDD assists HireLAX participants by providing services or covering the cost of transportation, tools, work boots or union dues that allow participants to fully concentrate on succeeding in the program, said Socrates Garay, Brian’s case manager at the Watts YouthSource Center. HireLAX “really does open up doors,” Socrates said. He added that Brian dedicated himself to the training because he recognized the career possibilities available.

“He realized that from the very beginning he knew what he was going to get out of this,” Socrates said. “That allowed him to persevere.”

Learn more about EWDD Youth Services and the YouthSource Centers

This story is part of the EWDD UPDATES from the week of 4/9/2018. Read this issue and more.