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Job skills training at IINE: Building new careers with MNPAP

  April 27, 2022

Job skills training programs at IINE are designed to empower newly arrived refugees to achieve independence and stability, and to help currently employed immigrants move into higher-paying careers. IINE’s goal is to remove as many barriers in their way as possible, and to provide both the tools and the guidance needed for success.

A quick overview of programs

IINE programs that help clients achieve job-readiness include:

English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL): These classes are offered at several levels ranging from beginner to advanced. They offer a vocational focus, and help students learn the language skills and cultural knowledge they need to successfully enter the workforce.

Industry-Focused Training: While all of the job training programs below are available to clients who are already fluent in English, they include further support and training for English language learners.

  • Healthcare training programs: The CNA for Success Certified Nursing Assistant program (in Massachusetts) and LNA for Success Licensed Nursing Assistant program (in New Hampshire) introduce clients to entry-level healthcare positions in high demand. Read about Brenda, one of our CNA program graduates.
  • Hospitality: The Hospitality Training Program (HTP) and Maintenance Technician Training Program (MTTP) prepare clients for work at hotels, and the Ready, Set, Service! program provides training for customer service roles in hotels and food services.
  • Construction: The Metro-North Pre-Apprenticeship in Construction and Building Maintenance Training Program (MNPAP) prepares unemployed and underemployed clients for an apprenticeship program in a construction trade or in building maintenance.

An introduction to construction

MNPAP is funded by a Senator Kenneth J. Donnelly Workforce Success Grant through the Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development; the program is administered by the Commonwealth Corporation. Instructors include IINE staff as well as outside partners, and classes are conducted partly online and partly in person, for hands-on experience. The course includes:

  • 48 hours of job readiness training, including resume and cover letter writing, interviewing skills, workplace etiquette, customer service, professional communication, and more;
  • 90 hours of hands-on construction and facilities maintenance training;
  • 12 hours of OSHA safety training;
  • Six hours of hoisting certification prep; and
  • Four hours of financial literacy training.

Juliette’s story begins

Women and minorities are particularly encouraged to apply to MNPAP, and this was part of what drew in Juliette Urrea, who came to New England from Colombia when she was 17 years old, and now lives in Everett, MA. “I was always told construction was only for men,” she explains.

Juliette had an associate’s degree in art from Bunker Hill Community College, and a job as a waitress, but was struggling to find a career that met her needs. She wanted better pay and a Monday-to-Friday schedule that would allow her to spend more time with her six-year-old daughter. So when the Covid-19 pandemic caused her workplace to close temporarily, Juliette decided to give the MNPAP program a try. “If you want to change your future, trades are really a good opportunity,” she says.

Because of the pandemic, the first part of the course was delivered remotely. Juliette’s personal laptop struggled to load the virtual meeting software, so IINE loaned her a better one. Initial classes focused on job readiness skills, and she learned how to tailor a cover letter and resume to a particular job application. Next, she studied financial literacy, learning how to properly use and budget around a credit card, and what might affect her credit score.

Hands-on training in the field

For hands-on training, Juliette and her classmates met at Medford Vocational Technical High School, with some students getting a lift to the site from the instructors, and students were provided with work clothes.

Juliette had never handled any construction tools before, so this was her first introduction to the safe use of a ladder, a hammer, a drill, and measurement instruments. She was excited to learn about blueprints, and how to apply them to building: “I enjoy math, so that was one point I really liked, she recalls.

Throughout the course, Juliette and her classmates were introduced to Office of Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines to keep them safe on the job, and Juliette was surprised to learn how old the regulations were. She was also surprised and pleased to learn that with the right tools, women can do all kinds of heavy labor in the building trades. “There’s even a woman in demolition!” she says.

Ongoing support from IINE

Juliette completed the MNPAP course in October 2021 along with 14 other graduates. Their graduation ceremony was held in December. While she was taking the course, her restaurant reopened, allowing her to resume her job as a server while working towards the next step in her construction career.

She won’t be pursuing her goals on her own: as Juliette works on applying for construction jobs, IINE’s Associate Director of Workforce Initiatives will be passing on job leads, and will help to prepare her for interviews.

Juliette’s first goal is to work as an estimator, helping to determine the costs of construction projects, which would allow her to apply her math skills. Her dream is to start her own construction company.


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