Veterans offered help with electrician training

 
 
Posted12/29/2011 5:30 AM

A new national program kicks off in Elk Grove Village with up to 10 slots to train and employ military veterans as electricians.

While the training from Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) requires upfront tuition, a not-for-profit called USA Cares will pay that until an individual's GI Bill benefits come through, as well as helping with other expenses.

 

The veterans will also be guaranteed 12 months work for successfully completing the program and will receive stipends from their employers, said Marcie Bennett, USA Cares' Jobs for Veterans program manager. Beginning pay for the nonunion apprentices is $13 an hour, she said, and it increases with training. Work starts after seven weeks of intensive classroom training. Further classes will be needed over the years to obtain journeyman licensing, said Bennett.

To get into the program each veteran interviews with a contractor and is hired by that company. Seven jobs are signed up, and it is hoped the last three slots will be filled in a few weeks, said Alicia Martin, president and chief executive officer of the ABC Illinois chapter. At least 30 veterans have contacted the Illinois chapter, she said.

USA Cares and ABC have pledged to train 1,000 veterans nationally in 2012.

Applicants can apply online at usacares.org at the "Jobs for Vets" tab or at learnyourtrade.com. Applicants can also apply by calling USA Cares at (800) 773-0387 or Steve Foltin of ABC at (800) 709-2960.

Only veterans who have served after Sept. 11, 2001, are eligible for the specific program coordinated by the two organizations. However, anyone can take the electrician classes. The deadline for applying for this pilot electrician program is Jan. 19. Classes start Feb. 13.

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The partners hope to expand the veterans project to other trades including carpentry and welding.

Contractors call frequently looking for trained apprentices, said Martin. Companies also get tax benefits for hiring veterans.

Bennet quoted the U.S. Labor Department as saying veterans from this time period had an 11.1 percent unemployment rate in November, compared with 8.6 for the population overall. Those aged 18 to 24 recorded 30 percent unemployment in October, compared with 15 percent for others in that age group. Female veterans face 18 percent unemployment, and the unemployment rate for military spouses hit 26 percent.

One of the missions of USA Cares is to alleviate financial barriers for veterans seeking employment, said Bennett. For example, the organization, which is funded by donations, might pay moving expenses for someone with a job offer.

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