Desmond Roberson is not just building a career in Austin—he’s helping to literally build Austin.
Desmond has lived in Austin all his life. Today he is a member of Sheet Metal Workers Local Union No 67. Working in Austin’s skilled trades industry wasn’t his original plan but today Desmond is satisfied with a career that lets him work with his hands.
“I started with the Sheet Metal Workers in 2019,” Desmond said. “I was in the construction program at American YouthWorks so this kind of work wasn’t new to me. At the time, I was out of school and had been trouble a couple times and was working a temp job. When I was let go, I remembered I could always come back to American YouthWorks for help.”
Desmond did ask for help, which is where he learned about the Multi-Craft Core Curriculum (MC3). This nationally recognized program introduces students to the different building trades and teaches them the skills necessary to successfully apply for a registered apprenticeship, debt-free, over a two-week training time. Desmond enrolled in the May 2019 class, which was held at Local 67 in partnership with Plumbers & Pipefitters Local Union 286.
As the training days passed, Desmond gathered many positive impressions of work in the skilled trades: “I liked how you are not just in a class. In the MC3 program, you do what you have to do and stay on task—and you will get a job. You receive an opportunity to elevate your life,” he said.
“You learn what each trade is and what the work is like, so you can determine which is the best suit for you. You have the option and freedom to choose where to branch off into after graduating” Desmond said.
“I chose the sheet metal union because my MC3 class was in their union hall. I saw those workers and how they were like a brotherhood and thought that was a good suit for me,” said Desmond.
Desmond joined the Registered Apprenticeship program with Local 67 in August 2019 and began working in the union’s shop. “In this trade, you go from the shop to the field,” he said.
“At first, I was making ductwork from scratch, taking sheet metal and making bins. Now I am working downtown on Colorado and Sixth streets. I think it’s amazing. In the field, I install the ducts in the units. I can see the whole process of the project.”
For young people who are unsure what to do next in life, like Desmond once was, he offers some advice.
“I grew up around a lot of people who made mistakes growing up. When I post work videos on social media, they see me and wonder how I am able to do this. I tell them to get with the MC3 program. I want to lead people to this program. If you have the will to better your life, the program is there for you,” Desmond said.
If you are interested in enrolling for job training, whether in the skilled trades or another growing industry in Austin, visit our Job Training page to get started.