Free apprenticeship readiness programs are in Houston as Labor Secretary prioritizes trade skills

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Friday, September 23, 2022
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Recession isn't what concerns U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, instead it's another area, that as we discovered, Houston is already focused on.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A recession isn't what concerns U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, instead, it's another area that, as we discovered, Houston is currently focusing on.

In an interview only on ABC13, Walsh said if he were 18 years old, a field he would go into would be welding, which is a hot commodity right now.

"I think cyber security is one of those spaces I would go into," Walsh said. "I'd also consider welding." A trade skill he said more Americans should consider. However, he noted landing one of those jobs isn't always so easy.

"I'm not concerned about a recession," Walsh explained. "I'm not concerned about a slowdown in the economy. I guess I would say that one thing we have to do right is workforce development apprenticeship programs."

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To fix this, Walsh visited a trade skill program in San Antonio. He wants to do something similar nationwide. From what we know, Houston already has one.

"The cost of the apprenticeship readiness program at the Houston Gulf Coast Trades Council is zero," Juliet Stipeche, executive director of Workforce Solutions, said. "It's 100 percent free." Next year, Workforce Solutions will offer $15 million in scholarships to help 5,000 people enter high-skill job training.

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The Houston Gulf Coast Building and Construction Trades Council is one of those places, a place that offers pre-apprenticeship for three weeks. "They teach you to be there early," Mylan Ingram, a graduate, said. "They teach you that apprentices don't know much. You may be doing odd jobs like carrying or washing tools at first."

Ingram went through it and landed an apprenticeship. Not only is the course free, but once in a career, you make upwards of $30 an hour as you learn.

"You can change your life," Ingram explained.

Since the pre-apprenticeship program started, more than 200 have completed it. This month, around 30 more will take part in the course.

So far, 70% of those who finish it end up in a paid apprenticeship with trade skills that Walsh said are needed for the future workforce.

"These programs are on the ground, meaning that you have employers on the table, employees at the table, workforce development on the table, and those programs work when you bring them all together," Walsh said.

If you're interested in the pre-apprenticeship program, or another apprenticeship program, you can call the ABC13 viewer hotline at 713-243-6663.

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