Training program

Lawmakers meet with graduates of new $ 1.8 million skills training program

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  • Anne Wallace Allen © ️ Seven days
  • John skoda

After taking on various low-paying jobs that didn’t suit him, Barre resident John Skoda wanted to settle down with a career that could pay the bills. So this fall, Skoda signed with Serve, Earn & Learn, a new training initiative funded this year with $ 1.8 million from the legislature.

On Friday, Skoda, 27, and several others graduated from Construction 101. He’s heading to a temporary job to insulate houses for Capstone Community Action; if he’s hired on a permanent basis, he expects to make $ 18 an hour.

Skoda, who has a psychology degree from Castleton University, saw an ad for the free four-week construction program on Front Porch Forum, and saw it as a good opportunity to learn new skills in a little while. of time. After working for several years in community mental health and then in a variety of short-term jobs, he decided he needed more skills.

“I find myself at a time when my partner and I are looking to buy a house and have some stability in our lives,” Skoda said.

Friday’s graduation ceremony at the Barre Granite Museum – where some construction classes are held – introduced some program participants to lawmakers and other supporters. The program is a collaboration between Vermont Audubon, the ReSOURCE vocational training program, Vermont Works for Women and the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps.

By sharing marketing and other resources, groups, which already run workforce development programs, can get more people to sign up, said Rhoni Basden, director of Vermont Works for Women. They also work together to find participants, provide basic professional skills and provide employment opportunities.

Lawmakers chose Serve, Earn & Learn for funding as a way to help people find meaningful work, said Vermont Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Becca Balint (D-Windham), who attended the graduation ceremony with seven other lawmakers.

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“VYCC and Vermont Works for Women have a great track record, so we knew the money would be well spent and not go into programming and overhead,” Balint said. “And I can tell you to travel across the state with the [House] speaker: all we hear in every community is that people want more workforce development opportunities that are meaningful to young people and to people who want to change jobs.

Through the ReSOURCE construction program, interns are placed with an employer for two weeks, and “more often than not, after two weeks, the employer picks up the intern,” said Tom Longstreth, executive director of ReSOURCE, a program vocational training facility with four offices in Vermont.

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President of the Senate Pro Tempore Becca Balint (D-Windham) - ANNE WALLACE ALLEN © ️ SEVEN DAYS

  • Anne Wallace Allen © ️ Seven days
  • Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Becca Balint (D-Windham)

In recent years, ReSOURCE has run up to three construction related courses with eight interns, all in Burlington. The money earmarked this year helped ReSOURCE expand the program to 11 courses statewide, Longstreth said.

Employers cite the shortage of job applicants as a critical issue. The State Department of Labor said there were thousands more unfilled jobs in Vermont than there were people looking for jobs. Therefore, vocational training programs seek ways to help people who are not working to re-enter the labor market. Others who want to work can’t take jobs because they can’t find daycare, according to Basden at Vermont Works for Women.

The Serve, Earn & Learn program helps interns overcome barriers at work, such as transportation and housing issues, and teaches “soft” skills such as communication and confidence. As part of its construction course, Skoda learned how to write a resume.

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New graduate Jack Tighe, 61, said he was a qualified diesel mechanic and had construction experience. But he never learned to use a computer and hasn’t worked for years. Someone from the state’s Vocational Rehabilitation Division helped him set up an email account, and Tighe hopes to get back to work through Serve, Earn & Learn. He now knows how to write a CV and prepare for a job interview.

Basden said Serve, Learn & Earn is expected to create 375 jobs for youth and young adults in Vermont this year, provide $ 1.2 million in wages or allowances and offer 147 AmeriCorps positions.

There are many vocational training programs in Vermont, and lawmakers have been unwilling to add another one. They chose to fund Serve, Learn & Earn because it helps the four existing programs do more for people looking for work, said Senator Jane Kitchel (D-Caledonia), who also attended the graduation ceremony. Last summer, she visited the conservation corps participants who were building a structure in Groton State Park.

“Often a lot of what we create is an ad hoc program here, a program there,” she said. “This is a very good direction to take.”


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