(Photo by Stephen Babcock)
Lionel Hall stood in the Foundery makerspace in Port Covington. He just completed a graduation ceremony, and representatives from companies looking to hire were passing business cards.
“I’ve been wanting to work with my hands before all of this, so when I got the opportunity I just ran with it,” the East Baltimore resident said, adding that he wants to weld.
Elsewhere in the room, Timothy Paul talked about using the makerspace’s tools. He said he enjoyed metalworking. “I like a challenge,” he said.
They were among 16 recent graduates of Sagamore Development’s Manufacturing Bootcamp at the makerspace within City Garage that opened last year.
The recently-completed six-week session is designed as a pre-apprenticeship program. Participants are referred by the Center for Urban Families, a nonprofit that does outreach and teaches the “soft skills” involved in getting a job, and also helps with transportation. Participants took classes four days a week for four hours, and learned how to use the various heavy-duty tools at the Foundery.
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It was the second edition of the bootcamp, with eight more participants than the first. Tom Geddes of Sagamore Development said “the goal is to scale up,” and they are looking to keep doubling the number.
With a major development that includes a new Under Armour campus set to rise around City Garage in the future, the bootcamp is seen as a way to provide job training to city residents.
“It’s a long way until we really need very significant numbers of jobs in Port Covington, but we want to have this program firing on all cylinders by the time we get there,” Geddes said. The participants have all been men so far, but Geddes said women could be included in the future.
Members of the first class all received job offers following the bootcamp. Columbia-based HMC, Inc., hired seven of those participants, with Whiting Turner hiring another.
After their graduation ceremony, members of the next class had a chance to talk to other employers.
Just before being approached by a representative of one such company rep, Roderick Godbolt told us about how he was working “dead-end jobs” prior to the program. Along with the woodworking skills he gained, he said he to took inspiration from spirit of the program, as well.
“If I can find a job that impacts people, that’s what I want to do,” he said.