Workforce and Apprenticeships


With over 125 German companies in the Pittsburgh region, there is an enormous demand for skilled employees with specialized training and education. The German Dual Apprenticeship program is being implemented across the region. Following the completion of our pilot program, GACC Pittsburgh Chapter is proud to introduce the German Style Apprenticeship Program. Partners for the pilot included VEKA Industries, Seneca Valley High School,  and U can B, an in-school program that provides career exposure.

GACC Pittsburgh Chapter collaborated with partners to develop a curriculum specific to VEKA’s job requirements and based on the IHK’s “Verfahrensmechaniker fuer Kunststoff- und Kautschuktechnik, Fachrichtung Halbzeuge” curriculum. Seven senior students began the apprenticeship for extrusion operation with VEKA Industries, the world’s largest extruder of uPVC profiles, this January.

The program has expanded to several counties and include six companies with a wide range of the IHK’s apprentice modules, providing skilled workers to Pittsburgh businesses and job security to local students. Workforce and apprenticeship programs will expand again in 2017.

A Dual Apprentice System is an educational and apprenticeship program that combines vocational classes with work experience at a company. It is the perfect means to prepare young people to enter the workforce. This system is commonly referred to as the “German Model”. Germany boasts remarkably low rates of youth unemployment due to their widespread usage of the dual educational model.
The Dual System provides students with the development of relevant and competitive skillsets, future job security, guaranteed employment after graduation as well as little-to-no student debt.

A partnership between Building Bridges for Business and the Pittsburgh chapter of the German American Chamber of Commerce has adapted the German dual training model for application in the Pittsburgh area and beyond. The project connects young people seeking skills training and employment with apprenticeship programs at area companies. The apprenticeship program will involve time split between traditional classroom education and on-the-job training in the field that the student is interested in.
The trainees will be recruited as high school juniors or seniors and will be able to finish their high school degree during the program. The curriculum for the program will be based on the existing standardized German curriculum for each profession. During the apprenticeship, the trainee will be paid by the host company. The goal of the Dual Apprenticeship program is that the trainee will have a job waiting for them in the skill area from their host company, and the company will have a well-trained future employee. Both the employer and trainee will heavily benefit from the program.



The reality is that many adult and student-aged workers simply do not have the vocational skills required to meet the demands of the job market. Building Bridges is also a conduit to connect local job seekers with the plethora of free or low-cost training options that are available in and around the Pittsburgh-area.

Below are some of the major events the Building Bridges hosted in the past 6 months.

Workforce Wednesdays

Please register for Networking 101 on Wednesday, February 8, 2017 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM EST at:

This workshop will provide job seekers and career counselors tips for building contact lists, using social media and creating a branded message that will help generate better job leads. Very practical and applicable information. Participants will leave this webinar with actual tools and strategies that can be put to use same day!

After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the training.

Please register for Rap Sheet Cleanup on Wednesday, February 15, 2017 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM EST at:

approximately 75% of criminal records contain errors. Almost every employer in the country is running a background check as part of the hiring process. Don’t you want to make certain your info is accurate?

A must for any job seeker with a criminal record! This session will teach participants to obtain and interpret a criminal record, file for expungement and make corrections. A critical first step in the job search process for anybody facing this barrier.

Includes an Intro to the Pardon process is included!
After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the training.

Please register for LinkedIn for Job Seekers on Wednesday, February 22, 2017 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM EST at:

approximately 90% of recruiters are reviewing a candidate’s LinkedIn Profile. But, the profile is not the website’s only useful feature. LinkedIn allows job seekers to easily connect with previous co-workers & classmates, LinkedIn features Job Search & Application sections, LinkedIn facilitates group discussions related to career advancement, and there is much much more!. Sign up today to learn how to utilize ALL of LinkedIn’s unique job searching tools!

After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the training.

State of Employment @ Penn State Greater Allegheny – July 2016
On Monday, July 11, 2016, Scott Albert of Building Bridges organized and led a State of Employment Panel Discussion at Penn State Greater Allegheny. Students and members of the community were invited to participate in the discussion, which focused on everything from job opportunities, job search tips, and trends in Pittsburgh’s economy. Panelists included Shannon Austin of Pennsylvania’s Office of Vocation Rehabilitation, BJ Hart of AIL/Arias Agencies, Jessica Albert of US probation & Pretrial Services, and Joe Martelli of BOSS Labor Group.

A small job fair followed the panel discussion. The panelists were joined by Career Talk on KDKA, Building Bridges for Business, Veterans Employment Service, and First Commonwealth Bank. Dozens of students and job seekers were in attendance.

Employer Expectations – FCI Hazelton September 2016
Scott Albert organized and led a series of workshops and panel discussions for inmates serving time at the Federal Corrections Institution at Hazelton, WV. The workshops, titled ‘Employer Expectations’, took place for two days beginning September 14th and ending September 15th. Sixty male inmates and 45 female inmates participated to learn about Job Search Strategies, Career Tips, and Soft Skills in addition to Employer Expectations. The workshops concluded with representatives from BOSS Labor Group, ZeroSixEight, and West Virginia’s Department of Vocational Rehabilitation participating in a Q & A sessions with inmates and prison staff.

Erie Reentry Workforce Summit – September 2016
The burden faced by men and women trying to find employment after having received a criminal record is one of the most difficult issues facing the workforce development industry. Successful reentry of clients leaving the criminal justice system and reentering society requires the coordinated efforts of court representatives, corrections staff, workforce professionals, social service agencies, employers, the men and women with a record, and the family members of those men and women. On September 27, 2016, Building Bridges for Business brought together all of these individuals for the first-ever, one-of-a-kind Erie County Reentry Workforce Summit.

Building Bridges coordinated the one day Summit at the Erie Sheraton Bayfront. Participating criminal justice agencies included but were not limited to US Probation & Pretrial Services, The United States District Attorney’s Office, Federal Bureau of Prisons, Erie County District Attorney’s Office, Pennsylvania State Parole, and Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. Social service agencies included Erie Together, Pennsylvania’s Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership, Stairways, and others. In total, 130 individuals participated in morning workshops and panel discussions which were moderated by Scott Albert, VP of Education & Workforce Development at Building Bridges for Business.

The afternoon of the Summit featured a job fair. Twenty employers including UPMC, Grimm Industries, Arias Agencies, EPI Recycling, TRN Staffing and Whole Foods presented job opportunities to approximately 200 job seekers. The Erie County Reentry Workforce Summit marked the first time in Western PA history that all employers, criminal justice agencies, service providers, educators, and job seekers with a record participated in this type of event.

USPO Open House & Community Resource Fair – October 2016
The 3rd Annual US District Court Open House and Resource Fair took place on Friday, October 21, 2016. Building Bridges for Business participated as a vendor at the event. The day began with visits from the court family which included Federal Judges, US Attorney Staff, The Federal Public Defenders and other court personnel. The court family and service providers had the opportunity to discuss services that are available in the community; Building Bridges for Business staff shared online resources such as Coffee With…, Career Talk, and online learning tools.