Maurice Culley and Emiliano Jones start their workdays while most people are hitting the snooze button.
Fully geared up and on site by 6:30 a.m., the two young men are working for TAI Specialty Construction, a Maryland-based company that’s contracted with Kuehne Chemical Company, which is located in the industrial area of South Kearny.
They work in TAI’s Fiberglass and Coatings Division, cutting fiberglass and sanding and prepping pipes for use at the Kuehne worksite, where brine is made into bleach of a high concentration. Culley and Jones, who were hired in October and November, respectively, landed jobs with TAI as a result of training at New Community Workforce Development Center’s Building Trades Training Program.
The 540-hour course, offered at the NCC Workforce Development Center at 201 Bergen St. in Newark, covers basic carpentry, electricity, plumbing and an internship over the span of 16 weeks.
Although the industrial site in South Kearny was unfamiliar, Jones, a 25-year-old Newark resident, said his training at NCC prepared him for working in the construction industry.
“It kind of reminded me of what I learned in the classroom,” he said, taking a break on a recent Tuesday during an 11-hour shift. Jones and Culley work under the direction of George Finch, TAI Fiberglass and Coatings Division Manager.
Culley, 22, of East Orange, said he plans to pursue another training opportunity at NCC, the Automotive Technician Employment and Training Program, but said his experience with Building Trades has equipped him with several trade skills, like hanging sheetrock, installing flooring and toilets.
“Now I can do all of that plus more,” Culley said.
“The Workforce Development Center’s primary goal is to provide quality training services and employment opportunities for our students,” Director Rodney Brutton said. “Maurice and Emiliano’s transition to this job site in Kearny is an example of how our training program prepared them for the construction industry.”
Brutton also credited Building Trades Instructor William Robinson for providing the vocational training, which includes both classroom lectures and hands-on lessons in a fully outfitted shop.
The work at TAI, which will last until the end of the contract with Kuehne, requires both men to wear extensive safety gear, including a protective suit, helmet, protective eyewear, steel-toed boots and harness. Jones called it “a good experience.”
Finch, who has worked in the construction industry for 40 years, said Culley and Jones were able to leap past the basics because of their knowledge from training.
“It’s been a value to me to have employees come in and basically go straight to work,” Finch said.
For Jones, there’s now a direct link between the skills he picked up in training and the demands of his new job.
“Once I put two and two together, I realized I can do this,” he said.