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EMT Apprenticeship Program Gives Californian a Career Serving His Community

Thu, 07/05/2018 - 2:30pm

Jason Jones is giving back to the community that raised him, thanks to a unique job training program in Southern California. Raised in Norwalk, Jason now helps others as an emergency medical technician after completing an apprenticeship.

Following high school, Jason attended a local community college for a couple of semesters and worked in a job helping people with special needs transition into mainstream society when he learned about the EMT apprenticeship program from a family member. His previous job was rewarding but he had a long-term goal of a career in healthcare.

The apprenticeship program is operated by the Los Angeles County Fire Department, the Second Supervisorial District of Los Angeles County, and an ambulance company, with coordination from a local worker resource center. In this unique partnership, young adults from the community develop skills for a high-demand profession, participate in community service projects, and receive mentoring, leadership development coaching, and financial literacy instruction.

Jason spent five months in the intensive apprenticeship program – including mentorship – which prepared him well for the physical and mental rigors of working in emergency medical services.

After completing the apprenticeship program and related coursework, he passed the national registry exam for EMTs and was hired as a permanent employee of the ambulance company he had worked for as an apprentice.

Jason says he enjoyed learning on the job, and implementing the skills he learned in the classroom.

“The transition between book knowledge and practical skills has been incredible,” he said.

Jason is currently interested in becoming a flight EMT but he said he is also considering a number of positions in healthcare, including working as a registered nurse, and is planning to begin taking college classes again.

“My life has changed, I’m on a career path now,” he said. “I can change my community. My family members are very proud of me.”

Leo Kay works for the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Public Affairs in San Francisco.

Blog Featured Image: Authors: Leo KayBlog Tags: apprenticeshipemergency medical technicianJob TrainingEducationHomepage

Seeking Mine Safety Solutions Through Technology

Thu, 06/28/2018 - 12:51pm
MSHA is seeking information on technological improvements for powered haulage equipment that can help prevent accidents like this one, in which a large haul truck at a surface mine struck a passenger van. The van driver survived.

Can the technology developed for self-driving cars help save a miner’s life? That is a question we are trying to answer at the Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).

This week, MSHA published a Request for Information on technological improvements for powered haulage equipment that may have lifesaving implications for the mining industry. Powered haulage equipment transports materials at mines and includes haul trucks, front loaders, and conveyor belts. Unfortunately, accidents involving powered haulage account for a large share of mining fatalities.

One particular safety focus is on collision avoidance at surface mines, where haul trucks can be several stories tall and have blind spots extending hundreds of feet. Many large haulage vehicles used in surface mines are already equipped with backup cameras and warning alarms, similar to what is found in new cars on the road.

However, the latest smart technology developed for autonomous vehicles may be able to go further to increase miner safety. For example, seat belt interlock systems prevent a vehicle from starting if the belt is unbuckled. Additionally, collision avoidance systems use electromagnetic energy to sense the presence of vehicles and people, and alert the operator before accidents occur.

MSHA is seeking to solicit quality and comprehensive information. Representatives will be attending meetings and discussions with stakeholders across the country, including mine operators, equipment manufacturers, trade associations, and miners’ representatives. In addition, the Request for Information, issued through the Federal Register, will be open for public comment through December 24, 2018.

Utilizing technology can improve safety. MSHA is committed to the safety of American miners and look forward to hearing from the public on these important matters.

David Zatezalo is the Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health.

Blog Featured Image: Authors: David ZatezaloBlog Tags: Mine Safety and Health AdministrationMSHApowered haulagesafety tipstechnologyHomepage

Eighty Years Later: The Fair Labor Standards Act

Fri, 06/22/2018 - 8:27am
Eighty years ago, the Fair Labor Standards Act was signed into law – ensuring Americans receive the wages they have earned. 

Eighty years ago today, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was signed, creating the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) at the Department of Labor. This landmark legislation established several long-standing pillars of our modern workplace, including the minimum wage, the 40-hour workweek, and overtime. Though much has changed in the American workplace since 1938, the FLSA endures as a vital piece of legislation that ensures Americans receive wages they have earned.

Today, WHD’s education and enforcement actions work in concert to educate employers about their responsibilities and drive compliance with this law.

The Trump Administration is committed to working with job creators who follow the law. WHD has created new strategies and tools for job creators to ensure they can both comply with the law and correct inadvertent violations. One example is the PAID self-audit program, which allows businesses with such violations to work with WHD to quickly and efficiently pay employees their lost wages. Another helpful tool is the WHD animated training videos, which explain FLSA requirements to employers in plain language.

When violations and bad actors are found, however, WHD rigorously enforces the law. WHD’s data-driven enforcement efforts focus on areas where violations are most likely and most egregious, and where our efforts will have the greatest impact. Last year alone, WHD found more than $270 million in back wages for America’s workers – the second-highest amount ever recorded.

Workers depend on the FLSA to ensure they are paid wages they have earned. Job creators depend on the FLSA to ensure they compete on a level playing field. On this 80th anniversary, and always, WHD’s dedication to its mission remains as steadfast as the day the FLSA was enacted.

For additional information or to speak with a trained WHD professional confidentially, call 1-866-4US-WAGE, or visit

Bryan Jarrett is the Acting and Deputy Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division.

Blog Featured Image: Authors: Bryan JarrettBlog Tags: Wage and Hour Division (WHD)compliance assistancewage enforcementFLSAHomepagefeatured

Making Workplace Safety a Family Affair

Thu, 06/21/2018 - 8:06am

Riggio Valve is a family-owned small business in Bayonne, New Jersey, that performs rebuilding, welding, and machining services.

Several years ago, owner and president Vin Riggio set out to improve his company’s workplace safety and health program. After learning about the free compliance assistance services provided by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) On-Site Consultation Program at a safety conference, he reached out to the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development to get started.

Through the program, consultants from state agencies or universities work with employers to identify workplace hazards, provide services on compliance with OSHA standards, and assist in establishing a safety and health program. OSHA’s On-Site Consultation Program is available to employers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and several U.S. territories.

“We did not have the internal expertise, so the consultation program provided that along with the support we needed,” Vin said.

Riggio Valve in New Jersey improved its safety and health program with support from OSHA’s On-Site Consultation Program.

It is critical in every kind of work environment that employees are authorized to stop work at any time upon recognizing a possible hazard or unsafe condition. “Our employees helped to identify areas that needed improvement,” said Vin. Additionally, tests such as noise and air sampling were conducted to proactively ensure employees were not being exposed to hazards. The company also created a safety committee that includes both workers and management.

Since working with the consultation program, Riggio Valve has reduced its injury and illness rates ‒ they have not had a recordable injury in more than three years. As a result, the company has even saved money through lower insurance premiums.

In April 2017, Riggio Valve was accepted into OSHA’s Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP). This program recognizes small business employers who have participated in the On-Site Consultation Program and who operate an exemplary safety and health program. Find more resources for small businesses on OSHA’s website.

Jennifer Odiatu, an intern in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Public Affairs in Philadelphia, helped adapt this story from OSHA’s collection of SHARP success stories.

Blog Featured Image: Authors: Jennifer OdiatuBlog Tags: Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)small businessOn-Site Consultation ProgramHomepage

Trench Safety Stand Down: Protecting the American Workforce

Tue, 06/19/2018 - 12:02pm

Few people think about where their electricity or water comes from when they switch on a light or wash their dishes. However, Americans are on the job in trenches every day installing and repairing utility lines to ensure those conveniences are always available. It is critical for these workers to know how to stay safe while they perform their job.

To help reduce the risk of trenching accidents, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) partners with the National Utility Contractors Association (NUCA) and the North American Excavation and Shoring Association (NAXSA) to promote Trench Safety Stand Down, a week dedicated to trench safety.

From June 18-23, OSHA, NUCA, and NAXSA will encourage companies that use trenches to conduct Trench Safety Stand Down activities, which can include a discussion or demonstration at a work site to illustrate the proper technique to safely dig and use a trench. OSHA regulations require employers to protect workers in trenches with specific slope parameters to avoid collapse and entrapment. When sloping is not feasible, trenches must have the proper cave-in protection.

These five key trench safety tips will help keep workers safe:

  • Ensure there’s a safe way to enter and exit.
  • Trenches must have cave-in protection.
  • Keep materials away from the edge of the trench.
  • Look for standing water and atmospheric hazards.
  • Never enter a trench unless it has been properly inspected.

President Trump’s Administration is committed to the health and safety of the American workforce. Through activities such as the Trench Safety Stand Down, we can assure all Americans can safely return home at the end of their shift.

To report an unsafe trench call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742). For more information on trench safety, visit

Loren Sweatt is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health.

Blog Featured Image: Authors: Loren SweattBlog Tags: Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)trench safetyTrench Safety Stand DownfeaturedHomepageNational Utility Contractors AssociationNorth American Excavation and Shoring Associationsafety tips

Ending Child Labor

Mon, 06/11/2018 - 2:05pm
ILAB’s Futuros Brillantes project is one of several DOL projects designed to root out child labor from coffee supply chains. Credit: Israel Carcamo for World Vision 

Today, 152 million children are exploited worldwide through the deplorable practice of child labor. Children as young as 4 years old are forced to scrub factory floors, fold garments in over-crowded textile mills, pick crops under the hot sun, and work other jobs unsuitable for their age or development.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB) is working across the Administration and with stakeholders to advance efforts to end child labor.

As we observe World Day Against Child Labor, one important project to highlight ILAB’s work is coffee production. ILAB’s List of Goods, which identifies supply chains that violate international labor standards, found that 16 countries use child labor in the coffee production process. To end this abhorrent practice, we are working with partners to build coalitions of coffee buyers that support supply chains free of abusive child labor practices. In other countries, we are working with business associations to provide resources to families so that adults can support their families while children pursue an education.

One important part of the Trump Administration’s trade agenda is ensuring that trading partners do not profit from the use of child labor. When other countries fail to uphold their commitments on this issue, it is morally wrong and it harms American job creators and workers.

On World Day Against Child Labor, I hope you will join me in renewing our national commitment to ending child labor for good.

Martha Newton is the Deputy Undersecretary for International Affairs at the Bureau of International Labor Affairs.

Blog Featured Image: Authors: Martha NewtonBlog Tags: Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB)Child LaborWorld Day Against Child LabortradeHomepage

Ninety-Eight Years Later: Empowerment in the 21st Century Workforce

Tue, 06/05/2018 - 9:15am


Women's Bureau Director Patricia Greene

On June 5, 1920, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau was established to promote the welfare of wage-earning women and to help advance opportunities for gainful employment. At the time, women represented just 21 percent of the workforce.

Today, women comprise 47 percent of America’s workforce. Last month, the unemployment rate for adult women dropped to an 18-year low of 3.3 percent.

President Trump’s Administration is working to help all Americans access good, family-sustaining jobs. At the Women’s Bureau, we are focused on empowering women to thrive in all aspects of America’s dynamic economy.

Apprenticeships ‒ an earn-while-you-learn career pathway ‒ can help women enter careers in which they are historically underrepresented, such as construction, manufacturing, and STEM fields.

As the wife of a retired service member, another priority near to my heart is helping military spouses in the workplace. Ninety percent of civilian military spouses move as a result of their spouse’s military service. Unfortunately, 25 percent report that it took 1 to 3 months to find a new job, 29 percent took 4 to 6 months, and 12 percent took 7 to 12 months.

Occupational licensing can create unnecessary barriers by restricting entry and re-entry into the workforce. The Department of Labor is encouraging states to evaluate and reduce unnecessary licensing burdens for individuals like military spouses who move across state lines with their service member. President Trump also recently signed an Executive Order that advances the Administration’s commonsense efforts to improve the portability of occupational licenses.

Finally, we are working to find the balance between families’ access to affordable, quality childcare and workforce participation. President Trump included a paid parental leave proposal in his Fiscal Year 2018 and 2019 budget requests – the first time in history such a proposal was included in a budget request.

Ninety-eight years since our establishment, the Women’s Bureau remains committed to helping women thrive in the 21st century workforce.

Patricia Greene is the Director of the Women’s Bureau.

Blog Featured Image: Authors: Dr. Patricia GreeneBlog Tags: Women's Bureau (WB)apprenticeshipPaid LeaveOccupational LicensingHomepage

Honoring Our Military and their Family Members

Thu, 05/31/2018 - 1:59pm
Body:  blog-20180531-milspouse.png

As we end National Military Appreciation Month, it is important to acknowledge our nation’s military spouses. They carry a full load of responsibilities at home while a service member is away, and frequently have a career of their own.

However, when members of the military answer the call to duty, military spouses and their families routinely move with the service member.

State occupational licensing requirements often play a significant role in limiting access to jobs for military spouses. For those who relocate to another state, and work in a profession that requires a license, the burden of obtaining a new license for the same profession can be costly and time-consuming.

Even if a military spouse successfully navigates the application process for a new license, the precious time lost out of the workforce can have harmful effects on a family.

At the Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service, we work to help service members and veterans find good jobs. The Department’s mission extends to military spouses. To carry out this work and properly support military members and their families, the Department is encouraging states to consider ways to reduce excessive licensing.

This is the Department’s approach: If licenses are unnecessary, eliminate them; if they are needed, streamline them; and if they are honored by one state, consider reciprocity. Commonsense reforms will reduce barriers to job mobility and make it easier for military spouses to continue working.

America’s military spouses sacrifice greatly in service to our nation, and the Department of Labor wants to support these families and expand their opportunities for a brighter future.


Matt Miller is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy for the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service.

Blog Featured Image: Authors: Matt MillerBlog Tags: Veterans' Employment and Training Service (VETS)military spousesOccupational LicensingHomepage

OSHA Leads National Stand-Down to Prevent Falls

Wed, 05/16/2018 - 8:54am
More than 650 construction workers attended a National Safety Stand-Down event at the new D.C. United stadium.

Over one-third of construction fatalities occurred due to falls from elevation in 2016. Every worker in America should return home from work safe and sound at the end of the day.

Falls are preventable.

That’s why the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) holds an annual “National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls” each May. Across the nation and around the world, employers and employees voluntarily stop working to focus on safety concerns surrounding falls from elevation, which in construction is a height of six feet or higher.

This effort provides an opportunity to raise awareness of this serious danger, and a platform for employers and employees to discuss specific safety measures that can mitigate the risk of falls. Stand-down activities may include a discussion of job hazards, an assessment of potential risks, and the development of safety policies and goals.

This year, OSHA kicked off National Safety Stand-Down Week at the newly-constructed D.C. United Audi Field stadium in Washington, D.C. Department of Labor Deputy Secretary Patrick Pizzella and I joined safety experts and over 650 construction workers to discuss the importance of fall prevention, and encourage workers to participate in safety training.

Preventing falls is everyone’s responsibility. This stand-down campaign is a great reminder that we must be vigilant.

To share your story with OSHA on your Safety Stand-Down, Fall Prevention Programs, please email us at


Loren Sweatt is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health.

Blog Featured Image: Authors: Loren SweattBlog Tags: Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)fallsNational Safety Stand-DownHomepagefeatured

A New Career in the Tech Industry

Tue, 05/15/2018 - 10:14am


Yana recommends an apprenticeship for anyone seeking a career change.

Yana Radenska was a teacher in Seattle when she first considered making a career change to the tech industry.

Although she has a master’s degree and had dabbled with computers in the past, she knew she lacked skills, experience, and connections. Yana also wasn’t sure how she would afford the training necessary for the job she wanted.

That changed after seeing a friend’s post online about a unique program called Apprenti.

Apprenti is an apprenticeship program of the Washington Technology Industry Association Workforce Institute that addresses the workforce shortage in the tech industry through paid on-the-job training and education. The program began in Washington state and has since expanded nationally through a U.S. Department of Labor apprenticeship intermediary contract.

Yana applied to the program and was selected by a tech company to attend a 16-week coding boot camp, after which she began an apprenticeship with the company. While earning a paycheck, Yana received on-the-job training as a full-stack developer – learning a broad range of skills to build and maintain web applications.

After only seven months, her excellent performance as an apprentice resulted in the company hiring Yana for a full-time position in its Seattle office. Yana writes code and helps maintain the company’s website in her new job. She also more than doubled her annual salary.

Yana recommends the apprenticeship route for anyone in need of a career change.

“It has changed my life. I couldn’t have afforded it otherwise,” she says. “Every other apprentice I’ve talked to feels the same way.”

Yana says this is especially important because it provides more job opportunities in tech fields for people who may not have the means to pursue college degrees or costly training programs. “By opening the door for a wider variety of people, apprenticeships increase the diversity in tech fields,” she noted.


Leo Kay works for the Labor Department’s Office of Public Affairs in San Francisco.

Blog Featured Image: Authors: Leo KayBlog Tags: Working for YouapprenticeshipHomepageEmployment and Training Administration (ETA)information technologyIT

Celebrating and Supporting America’s Hardworking Mothers

Fri, 05/11/2018 - 6:47pm
Body:  blog-20180511-mothersday.png


On Mother’s Day, we celebrate mothers across the United States who are shaping our current and future workforce.

I’m a mom of three, and now a grandmother. I’m a military spouse, with my husband now retired.

I’ve been an inventory auditor, a nursing home administrator, and a professor.

Like all moms, I’ve worn and wear many hats, and being a mom is the hardest and most rewarding job of them all.

My mother was my role model, a lifelong learner and earner who explored all her opportunities and created her American Dream.

She earned her college degree after she had three children, and became an English teacher at our local high school. She ran a home in which reading was a priority, and to my great joy, sometimes valued over chores.

The Trump Administration is encouraging an economy in which all Americans have the opportunity to pursue their own American Dream and can thrive in good, safe, family-sustaining jobs.

Since 2017, the Department of Labor has been focused on expanding apprenticeships across all industries. On Thursday, the Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion submitted a report to the President to provide a strategy to create more apprenticeships in the United States through an Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship model. Industry-Recognized Apprenticeships can help more Americans access the jobs of today and tomorrow, becoming lifelong learners and earners.

Women’s participation in entrepreneurship is also expanding. In 2017, the Small Business Administration increased lending to women-owned businesses by $128 million. Women business owners employ more than 8 million workers and provide them with more than $264 billion in wages and salaries.

To propel these achievements forward, the President signed a bill authorizing the National Science Foundation to encourage its entrepreneurial programs to recruit and support women to extend their focus beyond the laboratory and into the commercial world.

On Wednesday, President Trump signed an Executive Order to increase job opportunities for military spouses, 92 percent of whom are women.

To help mothers and fathers thrive in these and other opportunities, they must have access to quality, affordable childcare options. The President recently signed a federal budget to increase funding for the Childcare and Development Block Grants from $2.8 billion to $5.2 billion – the largest increase yet.

For the first time in history, President Trump included a paid parental leave proposal in the Fiscal Year 2018 and 2019 budget requests.

Through these and other efforts, we will continue to support all families, empowering them with the resources to succeed.

From one mom to another, Happy Mother’s Day.

Dr. Patricia Greene is the Director of the Women’s Bureau.

Blog Featured Image: Authors: Dr. Patricia GreeneBlog Tags: Women's BureauPaid Leavechild caremilitary spousessmall businessfeaturedHomepage

Unemployment Rate Lowest Since 2000, and 5 More Things You Should Know From April’s Jobs Report

Tue, 05/08/2018 - 2:21pm

You may have heard that the unemployment rate dropped below 4 percent in April, for the first time since 2000. Here are five more things you should know from the April 2018 Employment Situation report released last Friday by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

  • Adult Women Had Their Lowest Unemployment Rate Since December 2000
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The unemployment rate for adult women (20 years and over) fell to 3.5 percent in April 2018.


  • The Hispanic Unemployment Rate Is At a Record Low
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The unemployment rate for Hispanics fell to 4.8 percent in April 2018.


  • 900,000 Prime-Age Americans Joined the Labor Force Since November 2016
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900,000 Americans ages 25-54 have joined the labor force since President Trump was elected in 2016.


  • The African-American Unemployment Rate Hit an All-Time Low
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The unemployment rate for African Americans fell to 6.6 percent in April 2018. This was the second time the unemployment rate for African Americans hit a new record low under President Trump.


  • 3.2 Million New Jobs Have Been Created Since November 2016
blog-20180508-Unemployment 6.png


Nearly 3.2 million jobs have been added to the U.S. economy since President Trump was elected in 2016. About 800,000 of these jobs were created since the president signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act into law.


Blog Featured Image: Authors: Office of Public AffairsBlog Tags: Jobs Reporteconomyunemployment rateBureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)featuredHomepage

Hospitality Apprenticeship Offers Bostonian a Path to Success

Tue, 04/24/2018 - 1:49pm

Hadia Diallo of South Boston enrolled at Quincy Junior College after high school. To afford tuition, she worked – as a teacher’s assistant at a local after-school program, a visitor’s experience associate at the Boston Children’s Museum, and a security officer – which meant that she could not attend school full time.

“After balancing school and work for so many years, I was stuck on what to do next,” said Hadia, now 25. “I knew that I wanted to go back to school and become successful, but I needed something to help me get back on track.”

       As a housekeeping apprentice,
       Hadia is on her way to her dream job.

Hadia’s husband had graduated from the BEST Hospitality Training Center’s pre-apprenticeship program in 2015, and by December 2017 he had advanced to a supervisor position at a luxury hotel in Boston.

After seeing her husband’s success, Hadia decided to try it for herself.

She applied and was accepted into the 6-week housekeeping pre-apprenticeship. As part of her training, she shadowed employees at two luxury hotels in Boston. Upon completion of the program, she was hired by a waterfront hotel as a housekeeping apprentice based on her excellent performance.

The paid apprenticeship includes 2,000-hours of on-the-job training coupled with formal instruction, and the opportunity to earn up to 12 credits at Bunker Hill Community College. Apprentices like Hadia can take additional courses in the college’s Hotel/Restaurant Management program at a substantially reduced rate through an agreement with BEST.

“I was looking for a career path and a great job where I can continue to learn,” said Hadia. “This program helped me to get a job at one of the best hotels in the city, the skills to be successful ‒ and I like interacting with guests.”

Today Hadia is learning the housekeeping and customer service skills she needs to pursue her dreams, which include a good-paying job, a college degree, and career advancement. Ultimately, she hopes to become a supervisor.

“This program has been life-changing,” said Hadia. “I’ve been learning new skills and making connections that have put me on a path to a career.”

James Lally is a deputy director in the Department’s Office of Public Affairs in Boston.

Blog Featured Image: Authors: James LallyBlog Tags: apprenticeshiphospitalityBESTHomepage

Welding a Stronger Future

Mon, 04/16/2018 - 8:27am
Steven Shrewry accepts an America’s Job Honor Award for overcoming obstacles to employment.

When Steven Shewry walked out of the gates of Iowa’s Anamosa State Penitentiary on Jan. 30, 2017, he could not have imagined that in just 10 short months, he’d be walking across a Des Moines stage accepting the America’s Job Honor Award for overcoming obstacles to employment.

Drug and alcohol abuse that began in his teens set Steven on a violent path. His behavior throughout his 20s tarnished his relationships with his daughter and other family members, and eventually resulted in a prison sentence for willful injury.

“When incarcerated, you think you need to be tough ‒ but I decided I needed to change my mindset to better myself for when I got out,” he said. “I wanted to earn the trust of my family and rebuild my life.”

Steven, who had done some welding in factories in his early adulthood, learned of a four-year welding apprenticeship at Anamosa State Penitentiary. He enrolled after some encouragement from Tim Diesburg, a former Apprenticeship Coordinator with the Iowa Department of Corrections, who started the apprenticeship program and served as a mentor to Steven.

      Thanks to the apprenticeship program he completed in
      prison, Steven started a job as welder with an Iowa
      company the day after his release.

Through the program, inmates can receive training in one of 19 vocations, plus job and life skills such as interviewing, resume writing, and communication. In 2016, the Iowa Department of Corrections became an ApprenticeshipUSA Leader.

Steven completed the welding program, which includes 6,000 hours of on-the-job experience, while still incarcerated. During a job fair he was permitted to attend shortly before his release, he provided his resume to Winger Companies, an Ottumwa-based business that was seeking welders. Impressed by his skills, the company told him to contact them when he was out of prison; the job was his.

Steven started his new position the day after his release. Today, he is a 40-year-old new grandfather who is working hard to rebuild important relationships, and speaking out about the importance of job training so he can help others. His story came to the attention of America's Job Honor Awards, a nonprofit initiative that recognizes individuals who have overcome significant barriers to employment and the employers who hire them.

Steven’s transformation from convict to journeyman sheet metal fabricator (and apprenticeship advocate) is just one example of how hard work plus the opportunity to gain in-demand job skills can set Americans of all backgrounds on the path to a sustainable career.

“It has been a long road but I’m very happy with the direction I’m heading. My bad days now are far better than any good days I had before,” Steven said. “The apprenticeship program has given me a lot of opportunities. I’m working for a great company, earning a good wage, and making up for lost time with my loved ones. I think apprenticeship is the key to providing the skilled labor our nation needs.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment of welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers will grow 6 percent from 2016 to 2026. The nation’s aging infrastructure will require this expertise to help rebuild bridges, highways, and buildings. Learn more about how to find or start an apprenticeship at

Rhonda Burke is a Public Affairs Specialist for the Department in Chicago.

Blog Featured Image: Authors: Rhonda BurkeBlog Tags: apprenticeshipIowaweldingreentryskilled tradesHomepage

Veteran is Firmly Planted in the Working World Again

Wed, 04/11/2018 - 12:04pm

Sean has transitioned to a job he loves.

Sean McMillen has taken an unorthodox path in the professional world, with stopovers as a soldier in the U.S. Army, an egg inspector for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and an independent nursery owner. Now – thanks to support from a disabled veterans assistance program – he’s enjoying his most satisfying career yet, working as a grain inspector for a company in Oregon.

A self-described city kid, Sean discovered a passion for gardening in his early twenties when a friend gave him an orchid. After a stint in the Army, Sean decided to open his own farm and nursery outside of Portland, Oregon, where he still lives.

Unfortunately, when business took a downturn, Sean had to close his nursery and seek a new career path. By his estimate, he was about six months away from homelessness, with no viable job prospects in sight. He also suffered from the effects of a back injury he incurred during an Army exercise.

That’s when he reached out to a program in Portland, supported by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service, that helps disabled veterans reintegrate into the civilian workforce. He credits the staff with helping him tighten up his resume, navigate the job search process, and, perhaps most importantly, “get motivated again.”

Within a few months, a large company that was opening its first office in his area offered Sean a position as a certified grain inspector, and he accepted. On any given day at his new job, he travels around the Pacific Northwest to collect samples for certification from a grain silo in Yakima, Washington, or even a tanker in Seattle Harbor with a load of wheat bound for international markets. 

He regularly refers other veterans to the program that helped him get back on his feet. “I don’t think a lot of people know these programs are out there,” Sean said.

Veterans can visit or call 1-877-872-5627 to learn about the employment services available near them, including one-on-one assistance at an American Job Center.

Leo Kay is the regional public affairs director for the Labor Department in San Francisco.

Blog Featured Image: Authors: Leo KayBlog Tags: Veterans Employment and Training Service (VETS)Working for YouAmerican Job CenterVeteransdisabled veteransUSDAU.S. Department of AgricultureHomepage