A Day in Ohio: Secretaries Perez and Duncan Go to Toledo

Labor Secretary Tom Perez is traveling with Education Secretary Arne Duncan to Toledo, Ohio, today to see first-hand model programs and partnerships that are equipping Americans with the knowledge, skills and industry-relevant education they need to get on the pathway to a successful career.

We want to make sure you see what they see, too. Follow along today to see live updates and highlights from their day.

First stop: The Toledo Technology Academy.

The path to good jobs begins in grade school. Students in grades 7 – 12 receive an intense integrated academic and technical education that prepares them for a rewarding, life-long career in engineering or manufacturing technologies. Along with more “typical” high school classes, they receive hands-on training in plastics technologies, automated systems, manufacturing operations, computer-automated design, electronics and other manufacturing technologies. The academy works closely with employers – including the local GM plant – to provide students with industry recognized credentials and certification. Students also can earn advanced credit at local 2- and 4-year colleges. In April, the Toledo Public School System was awarded a $3.8 million Youth CareerConnect grant that will expand the Toledo Technology Academy’s model to serve more students.

...Where students on the robotics team earn a varsity letter.

Joseph Neyhart, a recent graduate of the Toledo Technology Academy, shows off his robotics project. While in high school, Joseph gained hands-on job experience that prepared him for a lifelong career in mechanical engineering.

Alexis Smith, who also just graduated from the Toledo Technical Academy, is planning to attend the University of Toledo to become a biomedical engineer. The hands-on experiences she received in high school spurred her interest in improving medical technologies, including helping people who are claustrophobic in MRI machines. Her advice to other young people? “Think outside the box and don’t be afraid of a challenge.” Through new Youth CareerConnect grants, we’re helping more schools like TTA create programs that prepare young people for #STEM careers.

Second stop: The Toledo Electrical Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee.

Apprenticeship is a tried and true workforce development strategy that’s used successfully around the world, but has been underutilized in the United States. Both the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, signed by President Obama last week, and the recently released White House report on job-driven training encourage expanding apprenticeships in traditional and non-traditional industries.

The state-of-the-art Toledo facility is run jointly by IBEW Local 8 and the local chapter of the Electrical Contractors Association. Apprentices complete thousands of hours of on-the-job training. They also “earn & learn”: pay starts just over $11 an hour and progresses to a journeyman scale of $37.12, not including benefits.

...Where Secretary Perez got an important safety lesson.

Nathan Eaton, former apprentice who is now in his fourth year as a Wind Turbine Maintenance Program instructor, told Secretary Perez that turbine operation and maintenance is not an easy job. Dealing with electricity means safety is paramount and electrical workers need to be able trust each other. The hands-on job training apprentices receive help them learn the skills that are needed out in the field.

Third and final stop: Owens Community College and an American Job Center

Owens is the newest addition to the Registered Apprenticeship College Consortium, a bold new model that will allow graduates of Registered Apprenticeship programs (like those from the Toledo Electrical Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee) to turn their years of rigorous on-the-job and classroom training into college credits toward an associate or bachelor degree. Owens also was part of the Cincinnati State Community College Consortium that received nearly $20 million from the Labor Department to expand health care career opportunities.

The American Job Center on-site helps connect job seekers with positions as they become available, and employers with qualified workers. For people looking to improve their skills or start on a new career path, the center offers a wealth of resources on available training and education options.

What about you?

If you have a great program or success story you’d like us to know about, tell us here. Are you looking for a job, to grow your skills or to hire a skilled workforce? Find federal resources available in your community here.

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