WES Mariam Assefa Fund Grantee Partners

Building Skills Partnership

Category: Skills and Supports

Amount: USD$370,000

Term: June 2020 - Nov. 2022

Focus: Scale the career pathways program at Building Skills Partnership and develop a new industry-recognized Infectious Disease Certification training program for building service workers

About Building Skills Partnership

Building Skills Partnership (BSP) is a California statewide organization whose mission is to improve the quality of life for property service workers and their families by increasing their skills, access to education, and opportunities for career and community advancement. BSP represents property service workers, the majority of whom are Latinx immigrants in low-wage janitorial positions. Recognizing that the needs of workers go far beyond the workplace, BSP takes a holistic approach and strives to create an equitable future for its clients and their families. BSP currently serves 3,500 workers in California each year, and links responsible businesses directly with the service employees union.

What type of work will the grant enable?

This grant will help scale BSP’s work and develop new career pathways programs. Amid COVID-19 and as the economy reopens, BSP is undertaking critical efforts to ensure worker safety and help career pathways programs evolve to meet the needs of workers and employers.

Because of COVID-19 and the overall need for better safety and preparedness, BSP is developing an industry-recognized Infectious Disease Certification training as a pathway to career and economic mobility. Also, in light of COVID-19, BSP is exploring alternative service delivery models to support workers who have low levels of digital literacy, limited access to Wi-Fi and equipment, and limited English proficiency. Throughout its career pathways programs, BSP will take the lessons it has learned in virtual delivery to improve use of technology and share best practices with unions in other sectors and geographies so that more workers can benefit.

By elevating the voices of immigrant workers at the local, state, and national levels, BSP will also bring its deep understanding of immigrant workers’ needs to the work of advancing advocacy and policy that is focused on equitable recovery.

Why is this work important?

BSP has partnered closely with employers, building owners, unions, and workers to develop collaborative initiatives designed to prepare low-wage workers for the jobs of today and tomorrow, including higher paying and quality jobs . Sixty-one percent of building cleaning service workers in California are immigrants.

BSP’s impactful work with janitors, airport workers, and other property service staff can serve as a model for other organizations looking to create viable career pathways for similar frontline and service sector workers, many of whom earn low wages and struggle to become economically mobile. These workers need training and education programs that fill gaps and meet the evolving needs of employers and workplaces.