No matter where you live, there are federally-funded programs in your community ready to train Americans with the skills employers need to fill jobs right now. Explore the possibilities, and find your path.
Brandon Midell of Ohio was going nowhere fast during his troubled teen years. Seeking a chance to change his life, he enrolled in the Cincinnati Job Corps Center. The older students and instructors in Job Corps, Midell said, "influenced me, told me to stay in school and stayed on my case." He completed his high school diploma and welding training at Job Corps and worked at various welding jobs in and around Ohio.
One of those jobs included welding Humvees used by U.S. troops overseas, "which made me feel real good," he said. Midell now works full time on welding and construction jobs in North Dakota. He often returns to the Cincinnati Job Corps Center to share his good news with students and offer advice on how to turn their lives around.
While he was underemployed in a job selling cookware, Nick Bryant dreamed about capitalizing on his computer software degree and finding his "ultimate goal" of working in the technology field. Bryant made his dream a reality with help from CareerSource North Central Florida and its H1-B Technical Skills Training grant from the Employment and Training Administration.
The ETA grant funds the Healthcare Biomanufacturing Occupational and Technology Training program and enables employers to hire, train and retain qualified employees in permanent positions in health care, bioscience, manufacturing and technology occupations. After a career skills assessment, Bryant was hired as a software engineer by SharpSpring, a startup company that provides small businesses with software to generate and track sales leads. Rick Carlson, the company's CEO and founder, has hired about a dozen employees through the training program. It "allows us to hire people as we grow," Carlson said.
After ten years working at fast food restaurants and as a security guard, Baltimore's Deric Richardson found himself out of a job during the height of the great recession. Despite having a GED and a Microsoft Office certificate, he knew he needed more training and a more sustainable career path. At the Northwest Career Center at Mondawmin Mall — part of the American Job Center network – staff suggested that Deric take a look at a tuition free laboratory skills training program.
The training, offered tuition free by the nonprofit BioTechnical Institute of Maryland, is designed to prepare unemployed and under-employed Maryland residents – like Deric – for good jobs in the rapidly expanding biotechnology industry. Deric described the training as rapid teaching, saying that he started feeling a lot more confident from day 1. "I still apply everything I learned," Deric told Secretary Perez during a July 2014 visit.
Deric began receiving job interview requests before he had even completed the program in June 2010, and two weeks after graduating he started a full time position as a GMP (Good Manufacturing Process) Manufacturing Associate at Paragon Bioservices and is part of their Quality Control Support team.
Aaron Hawkins has loved art as long as he can remember. Finding steady employment in his field was another matter. After graduating from a prestigious New England design school, Aaron bounced around from project to project and was, as he put it, "ping-ponging all over the map." The opportunity for a stable career presented itself in place he didn't expect – Atlanta, Georgia, where LA-based Bento Box Animation Studios, had decided to open a new location.
The company is behind award-winning productions like the Fox series "Bob's Burgers," as well as Comedy Central's "Brickleberry," Hulu's "The Awesomes," and Fox's "Bordertown." However, animation technology is a rapidly evolving field and Bento Box discovered it was difficult to find qualified candidates in the Atlanta metro area.
Eager to provide in-house training, Bento Box found a willing and flexible partner in the Atlanta Regional Commission to help them develop a customized on-the-job training program, which is supported by Workforce Investment Act funds. Enter Aaron: As one of the first to enter the training program two years ago, he moved up in the company's ranks and is now a managing director at Bento Box, overseeing the work of 35-40 animators and designers.
So far, more than 40 people have completed the Bento Box program and nearly all have been converted to full-time employees. The company anticipates that their training program will help double their workforce over the next year (currently around 125 employees). It has enabled them to take on large-scale projects at the Atlanta studio, and empowered them to succeed in a competitive industry.
Despite leaving high school early, Holley Stafford of Cardova, Tennessee was determined to get her GED and knew she would need some help along the way. After a friend told her about the Benjamin L. Hooks Job Corps Center in Memphis, she enrolled right away. Now 20 years old, Holley has completed the trade carpentry program, received her GED and works for the carpentry union receiving on-the-job training on a remodel project at a Kroger grocery store.
As one of the few women in construction in her community, Holley believes she brings a new perspective to the project. "Since I was younger, I've always liked to fix things and I'm glad I'm finally getting an opportunity to do something that uses what I think I do best."
Holley said her dream is to work on residential housing projects and she wants to further her education: "After finishing my apprenticeship, I'm thinking about going to school for architecture so I can design houses – ones with secret doors and rooms."
Job Corps has allowed Holley and many others like her the opportunity to realize their full potential, live their dreams and contribute to their communities.
Each year nearly 30,000 students attend San Jacinto College campuses in suburban Houston, and thanks to close collaboration with the local workforce system and an injection of funding from Department of Labor, local refineries are tapping into this talent pipeline to meet their growing workforce needs. Jacob Cepeda is confident he'll be moving from San Jac's state of the art Process Technology Pilot Plant lab to the real deal soon.
Thanks to a $4.7 million High-Growth and Emerging Industries grant in 2010, "San Jac" was able to train nearly 900 students like Jacob for careers in growing areas like system and refinery operators and industrial, instrumentation and automation technology. Prior to joining the program, Jacob had already completed college but ended up with substantial student loans and needed a career that could help him pay off that debt. During a recent visit with Secretary Perez, Jacob noted that bacuse employers help shape the curriculum, students like him are better prepared to enter the workforce on day one.
Pennsylvanian Alan Carothers experienced many promotions and success in his career, working in purchasing, management and sales. But when an economic downturn caused his company to suddenly downsize, he was laid off and then hired at a much lower-paying job. While still working, Carothers wanted to upgrade his skills to find a new job. With the help of the American Job Center network, Alan enrolled in a Supply Chain Management Master's Degree program at Penn State, where he studies inventory control and supply chain sales forecasting. Part of his education was paid for under a department-funded Science, Technology, Engineering and Math grant awarded to the Central Pennsylvania Workforce Development Corp. The grant "helped relieve the pressure" of some of the debt he has incurred while juggling work and school. Since receiving his degree, Carothers has already interviewed for a more senior management position within his company.
Even while he was working long hours as a grocery stock clerk, Richard James was determined to find a rewarding career in the electrical trades where he could "work with my hands," just as an uncle had done. With help from his local American Job Center, James found his opportunity through the Building Futures Pre-Apprenticeship Program funded through the department's Green Jobs Innovation Fund. The six-week building trades course work James received included orientation to green jobs technology, blueprint reading, construction math, flagging, wiring, and introduction to tools and materials. He also received job readiness training that included test preparation and interview training techniques. James passed his tests, received his certifications, and became a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. James now works full time as an electrician, with a bright future ahead of him.
Jeffrey Price overcame the misfortune of being laid off after 20 years as a machinist to begin a new career as a nurse, thanks to the help of the American Job Center network of programs and services. Price said he was continually "frustrated looking for a factory job," and was working part-time as an emergency medical technician when he decided to make helping people his new career objective. With guidance from the Workforce Investment Act's dislocated worker program, Price enrolled in health care training paid for the by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. He successfully studied to become a Licensed Practical Nurse and passed his state board exam. Price now works at a local medical management company.
When David Lee lost his long-time delivery truck driving job, he was forced to spend his retirement savings to get by. When the savings ran out, Lee turned to his American Job Center for help finding a training program to get credentials for a high-demand occupation. Because he likes to work with his hands, Lee said, "welding sparked my interest as a career." The American Job Center helped him enroll in Wisconsin's Fox Valley Technical College's production welding program. Lee eventually became one of the first graduates from the college's Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center, built to address the growing demand for skilled workers. He now works as a welder for a local snow blower and lawn mower manufacturer. The program, Lee said, "gave me a career in a high-demand industry."
Thanks to local services funded by the department, when New Jersey's Crestron Electronics is looking to hire, they know just where to start. Crestron — a global supplier of audio-visual control and automation systems for residential, educational and commercial settings, is headquartered in Rockleigh, N.J. To keep up with global demand, Crestron worked closely with the federally funded Workforce Investment Boards and American Job Centers located throughout New Jersey to bring on 122 workers over the last four years. According to the company's senior HR director Martin Devaney, this partnership helped Crestron "identify local candidates and find some of the best potential employees." For Crestron and other interested employers, specialists at American Job Centers help pre-screen applicants, evaluate competencies for available positions, and send the best candidates to the employer. Crestron also was able to take advantage of a DOL-funded On-the-Job Training Program that covers up to half of the wages of new employees as they receive training. New workers often are paired with seasoned staff to help them learn difficult procedures faster. That was the case with Dan Jersey, who was unemployed and came to Crestron's attention through the Bergen County, N.J., Workforce Investment Board. The program "gave me the hands-on experience I needed" to succeed, he said. Jersey was hired by Crestron and paired with an experienced technician to start, but quickly moved up from tester to junior technician to a recent promotion as service technician.
When Rusty Justice, manager of Kentucky's earth moving and engineering company Jigsaw Enterprises, became frustrated with the speed at which they were able to communicate timely information to customers across the state, he turned to the American Job Center network for help. Through the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program — funded under the Workforce Investment Act — about a dozen Jigsaw employees participated in "incumbent worker training," using laptops and other mobile devices to instantly transmit information from the field to the office and back to the customer in minutes. Previously this process took days or weeks. "The training improved our company's productivity," Justice said. With productivity on the rise and a need to hire new employees, Justice again turned to the American Job Center network to find qualified workers. For eastern Kentucky's Nathan Coleman and several other laid-off miners participating in the Hire Our Miners Everyday program, it was the break they were hoping for. H.O.M.E., funded through a National Emergency Grant from the department, provides laid-off mine workers and their spouses with classroom training and skills certification, as well as covering a portion of wages for employers to offer on-the-job training. After being laid off, Coleman, a seven-year veteran of the coal industry, said he "didn't have much hope" of finding work and was set to leave the area. But Coleman showed promising computer and analysis skills through the H.O.M.E. program, and he and several other participants were hired by Jigsaw to help it keep its competitive edge.
New Hampshire's CommonPlaces, Inc., is a fast-growing web development and digital marketing company that was in search of talented employees. That's when the company's president, Ben Bassi, turned to an On-the-Job-Training Program funded by a National Emergency Grant from the Employment and Training Administration. Through the program, NH Works — part of the American Job Center network — acts as a matchmaker, screening the resumes of unemployed individuals and connecting them with potential employers. These employers, in turn, provide on-the-job learning opportunities and receive financial assistance through grants to help pay the wages of new workers. After making the investment in training, many employers hire OJT participants to permanent positions. Bassi said, "In today's economy, finding people who have been out of work, who want to work, and have the desire and willingness to be retrained is both gratifying and good for business." He eventually hired three employees through the OJT program. One of them, Gary Locke, was laid off from his video production job and remained unemployed for more than a year, even after sending out more than 180 resumes. Locke applied for the OJT program at his local American Job Center, and Bassi offered him a job as a digital marketing analyst. Locke called the OJT program a "win-win solution" because "businesses acquire the talent they need to grow and the unemployed get training and good jobs."
Jefferson Smithery always dreamed of enlisting in the U.S. Army. A forward-thinker, he realized early on that before joining the military he wanted to learn a trade that would serve him well in his post-military life. The Baltimore native's planning led him to Red Rock Job Corps Center in Lopez, Pa., where he enrolled in the brick masonry program in April 2012. While at Job Corps, Jefferson learned much more than just how to become a skilled brick mason.
"The importance of respecting yourself and others, giving your all in everything you do, and completing tasks thoroughly and punctually are some of the core values forever instilled in me," he said. After graduating from Red Rock in April 2013, he fulfilled his life-long dream and enlisted in the Army. Now a Private First Class Infantryman stationed at Fort Drum, N.Y., Smithery believes that the fundamental values he learned in Job Corps give him an anchor for meeting the challenges of military service. He credits Job Corps with teaching him not only professional skills, but life skills.
U.S. Navy veteran Ricardo Blair secured a job, a place to live, and restored his dignity through the Labor Department's Homeless Veterans' Reintegration Program. Upon departing the Navy after a 10-year career as a cryptologic officer aboard the USS Saratoga, Ricardo went through a divorce and several layoffs caused by the economic downturn. Unable to find work and with no family to help, he ended up sleeping in his car
With nowhere else to turn, Blair checked himself into a local Jacksonville, Fla., homeless shelter and immediately began working with veteran placement specialist James Frazier to find meaningful work. Within three months, Frazier found Blair a position with the Jacksonville Transit Authority as a bus driver. The Jacksonville HVRP helped him purchase work uniforms and supplies, and shelter employees helped him find an apartment. Blair never gave up hope and worked tirelessly with career counselors and shelter staff to regain his independence. Currently, Blair volunteers at the shelter and serves as a mentor to others facing similar circumstances. "You can't lie down and stay down. Dust yourself off and get back up," he says when encouraging others.
Shortly after Army National Guard veteran Tamra Brus returned from deployment in Afghanistan the company she worked for was sold and her position eliminated. Her seven months of unemployment "was a rollercoaster ride" of uncertainty, she said, until she asked Jeff Fischer, veteran's representative at her local American Job Center in Iowa, for help. Fischer, a Navy veteran, enrolled Brus in the Gold Card initiative, a joint effort of the department's Employment and Training Administration and the Veterans' Employment and Training Service. The program provides unemployed post-9/11 era veterans with enhanced employment services they need to succeed in today's job market. They met every few weeks to discuss and improve her resume, test her interview skills and match Brus' background in supply logistics to local job openings. Fischer said his job is "to develop a plan for employment that is consistent with that vet's goals and follow through to accomplish that." Brus did her part — she applied "to about 70 jobs and kept track of progress on a spreadsheet." She also graduated from a community college with a liberal arts degree. When Brus applied for a position at a local health care facility, Fischer helped her through a mock interview, and Brus now works as an administrative assistant to that facility's chief of staff.
New Mexico's Kacee Daugherty had 19 years in the Air Force, including tours in Iraq and Afghanistan as a medic. When she left the service she wanted to do something completely different with her life and become a human resources expert. She went to her nearest American Job Center and asked Local Veterans' Employment Representative Richard Coffel, who had served in the Air Force, for help. Coffel enrolled Daugherty in the department's Gold Card program, which provides post-9/11 era veterans with six months of intensive re-employment and case management services through all American Job Centers. Gold Card holders receive increased access to personalized career guidance and counseling to assist in making training and career decisions. Daugherty said every time she applied for a human resources job, she received a notice that Coffel had contacted the potential employer to advise them of her veteran's status. "Rich was my number one supporter and was always there for me," she said of Coffel's work. Their collaboration paid off for Daugherty, who now works in human resources for a local firearms company.
Nadine Wicklander had ice water in her veins when she cleaned and tested underwater mines while serving in the Navy. But she admits she "got tongue tied" in job interviews and her resume needed updating. That is where Local Veteran's Employer Representative Adrian Morado, based at an American Job Center in California, came to her rescue. Morado crafted Wicklander's resume to match her military skills to civilian-friendly occupations. He helped her find job openings through social media and coached her on delivering an effective 30-second "elevator speech." Morado, also a Navy veteran, said he works hard to "pay forward" the employment help he feels all veterans deserve for serving their country. Within two months of receiving assistance, Wicklander accepted a job with a large retail company. Shortly thereafter, Wicklander's revamped resume came to the attention of a large bottling company that offered her training to become a supervisor, and she accepted.
Vietnam-era Army veteran Floyd Godfrey held a number of key management jobs throughout his career, but when funding for his nonprofit organization dried up, the Washington, D.C., resident found himself unemployed. Godfrey came to the attention of Disabled Veteran Outreach Program specialist Michael Ervin, a 26-year Army veteran at the city's Department of Employment Services. At the local American Job Center, Ervin helped Godfrey update his resume, sharpen his interview skills and assess his career choices. Ervin "kept me motivated and consistently sent me job opportunities," Godfrey said of the help he received. Ervin said he derives satisfaction from helping veterans become "job ready." Godfrey eventually accepted a job in quality assurance with the D.C. police.
California's Hollie Enriquez had a college degree and a distinguished career in child development, but thought her skills were being undercompensated. So, in her mid-30s, she decided to make a career change. Enriquez sought help from Women In Non Traditional Employment Roles Inc., a nonprofit group that promotes the employment of women in high-wage, high-skill labor markets.
Enriquez spent weeks studying math and English, leadership skills, basic construction and work safety. She attended a grueling boot camp where her physicality was assessed as she carried 60 pounds of cement, hauled sheets of plywood and climbed tall ladders. A journeywoman instructor even taught her how to give a strong, confident handshake. Enriquez earned multiple certifications and was accepted into the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 11, where she receives on-the-job training as a paid apprentice. She hopes to become a journeywoman in the sustainable energy field.
Raised in the Los Angeles foster care system until she was a teen, LeDaya Epps bounced around between jobs for a number of years as a medical assistant, but couldn't find the stable work and pay that she needed to provide for her three children. After finding out about a construction apprenticeship at a local job fair and completing a rigorous boot camp, LeDaya became one of only two women to make it into the program.
She now is a full-time apprentice helping construct an 8.5-mile section of the Crenshaw/LAX light rail line that will run through Los Angeles, Inglewood and El Segundo. Working in construction was a career that always interested LeDaya but didn't think it was something a woman could do: "I always liked building stuff, but being a woman, I thought this was something I could never do. I was fascinated with it – I knew I wanted to get into a labor union." Apprenticeships can be a springboard for women to get into the middle class, in both traditional and nontraditional careers. That's just one reason the Labor Department is working to grow the number of Registered Apprenticeships over the next several years.
Danielle Clark of Washington state admits that taking risks got her into trouble as a teen. Clark said she is now focused "on a career and getting paid" as an apprentice in the electric power and utilities industry, which has a critical need for skilled workers. Clark met with staff at her American Job Center, who connected her with GreenWays – Jobs for the Future Initiative, funded by the department's Green Jobs Innovation Fund and by SkillUp Washington, a Seattle-based organization that supports workforce development training. Clark also received pre-apprenticeship training in green construction and utilities through an Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Employment for Women program. She then applied for and received a Vocational Outside Line Training Academy scholarship allowing her to attend an additional training program this fall. Upon graduation, she will help construct and maintain electric power transmission and distribution facilities throughout the Pacific Northwest, working in what Clark describes as "my dream job, with travel and risk."
Even when 14 months of unemployment forced her to take a job washing laundry, Valerie Ibey was determined to make a better life for herself and her two kids. With help from staff at her local American Job Center, Ibey connected with the education and training program called Skills Through Apprenticeship Retraining. Ibey, who previously worked in the printing industry, enrolled in machinist training courses provided under a partnership between New Hampshire's River Valley Community College and Hypertherm Inc., a local manufacturer of metal cutting systems. While studying subjects such as machine tool math and blueprint reading, Ibey earned $12 an hour. She will work full time for Hypertherm as a machinist when she graduates soon from the nine-week course. Ibey said "life is better" since she went through the training program and that she "looks forward to coming back" for even more education in her new career field.