April 25, 2018
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The jobs of the future are here

By Hilda L. Solis, Special to the BDN

“When I grow up, I want to be a supply chain analyst.”

You don’t hear these words too often — but I’m hoping that changes fast.

When I was a child, my siblings and I would sit around the kitchen table and tell our parents about the jobs we might hold as adults. My mother bought me a bag with bandages and a toy thermometer. I wanted to be a nurse.

Radiologic technologist, debit card specialist and, yes, supply chain analyst just weren’t common terms back then. But today these jobs — and thousands of others — are providing opportunities and hope to people entering or re-entering the work force.

I know encouraging words can ring false in today’s economic climate, but in times like these, knowledge is power. And when headlines like “Layoffs surge” and “Recovery will be among longest, most difficult” make individuals feel powerless, it’s vital to know about alternatives and resources.

I’m always thrilled on Labor Day to see Americans celebrate working people’s contributions to our nation. On this Labor Day, I encourage everyone to help spread the word about the options and resources out there for those who are striving so hard to join the work force.

No matter where I go and who I hear from, American workers tell me, “We need more jobs.” I agree. That’s why I want every American to know about those industries that are growing even now and providing much-needed hope and opportunity in the process.

The right knowledge and assistance — especially training — are putting people back to work. In particular, they are a lifeline for people who had thought they had a secure place in the work force, who never thought they’d have to re-invent themselves.

Consider Sheila Jolley, who discovered a second career in health care IT when her customer service job was outsourced to Canada. She would have struggled to find another position in the publishing industry, which is predicted to shrink by nearly 20 percent by 2018. But Sheila knew about possibilities in health care — expected to add 3.2 million jobs by 2018 — and enrolled in a program to learn medical billing and coding.

When Greg Matlock lost a job he’d held for eight years, he enrolled in classes through his local One-Stop Career Center. After graduating with a wind turbine technician certificate, he is now happily re-employed in the recycling industry.

Valerie Ibey, an unemployed mom of two, found work and hope as a machinist. A federally funded education and training program, along with courses through a community college and the company she now works for, gave her the credentials she needed.

In just one year, Work force Investment Act Adult and Displaced Worker programs placed 685,000 workers in new jobs. Resources like these are helping workers across the country, including here in Maine. Did you know there is a One-Stop Career Center in the Bangor area? See for yourself at www.ServiceLocator.org.

Type “manufacturing” into www.MySkillsMyFuture.org. Yes, manufacturing — where innovative technologies will become high-quality jobs thanks to efforts like the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership. Cooperative efforts across government, business and academia have powered industry growth before and will do so again.

If time and money are tight, go to www.CareerOneStop.org/EducationTraining for short- term training programs near you and information about grants, loans and scholarships.

The journey to a thriving work force starts at America’s kitchen tables, with dreams of a better future and jobs we never imagined as children — like medical records technician or energy efficiency engineer. It culminates with the high-quality jobs that will push us out of this recession and into economic leadership for many Labor Days to come.

Hilda L. Solis is the U.S. Secretary of Labor.

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