BY KATELYN CAMPBELL, COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT POLICY VISTA, THE HUB
Over the past several years, there has been a renewed national and local interest in the power of apprenticeship and retraining programs to promote growth in economically distressed cities and towns. Apprenticeships provide vital training opportunities that can increase economic security and help participants gain access to well-paying careers.
Despite the resources being poured into apprenticeship programs, though, the statistics for representation of women remain stark.
According to the National Women’s Law Center’s 2016 guidance to the Department of Education, although women make up 47% of the workforce, they account for only 6.3% of apprentices. This gap is even more significant in some of the highest paying trades requiring apprenticeships, which are classified generally as “nontraditional” positions for women.
In West Virginia, one organization is making space for women in apprenticeship programs in some of these high-paying trades.
WV Women Work, a nonprofit based in Morgantown, has been working for over 15 years to provide job training and placement for women around the state. Recently, through funding partnerships with the Robert C. Byrd Institute and the US Department of Labor, WV Women Work has launched a pre-apprenticeship program that will lead to apprenticeships in Advanced Manufacturing.
The program, Step Up for Women, is offered for free in Huntington and provides women with free training that will help them enter apprenticeship programs or entry level jobs. Over the course of the 10 week program, participants will learn the basics of the trade, as well as getting to meet with female mentors who have been there first.
In addition to Step Up for Women, WV Women Work also offers a pre-apprenticeship program for women interested in working in construction.
The next application deadline for Step Up for Women is December 15, 2017. For more information, visit their website.