United Way of Metropolitan Dallas

Job training paves the way for a career

"I was kind of lost. But today I have a career — not just a job. I've achieved financial stability and set goals to look forward to."

Michael transformed his life when he joined the CitySquare WorkPaths job skills training program.

Three years ago, Michael was 30 years old and unemployed. He says, "I was kind of lost. But today I have a career - not just a job. I've achieved financial stability and set goals to look forward to." How did Michael gain control over his life? Thanks to United Way of Metropolitan Dallas investors.

Michael transformed his life when he joined the CitySquare WorkPaths job skills training program. Funded by donations to the United Way Community Impact Fund, the program has a track record of helping struggling adults not only develop needed job skills but also get high-quality jobs.

Out of 40 applicants who showed up one icy morning for a spot in the program, Michael was one of 20 selected. For three months, he worked 40 hours a week to learn everything he needed to get a construction job. Master plumbers, electricians and others from the Construction Education Foundation taught basic plumbing, electrical, carpentry, welding and general construction. Michael also earned the occupational safety and hazardous waste operator certificates he needed.

The United Way-funded program also worked with Michael to put together his resume and work through the job application and interview process. In the end, he says, "a great company" hired him as an entry-level electrician and he enrolled in a four-year electrical apprenticeship program. Today, he's halfway to getting his journeyman's license. And beyond that, he hopes to "stay with company as long as I can and become a foreman" - something that could be eight or 10 years from now.

This year, he also was invited back to help evaluate the next batch of applicants for the program. "I explained to them how big an opportunity this is. I told them they really needed to try hard because it really can change their lives. United Way investors gave me opportunities that I didn't think I would ever have. Without them, who knows what I would be doing now? I might have ended up in jail."

When asked if there's anything else he wants to say, Michael adds, "There aren't enough people getting the help that I got. Only 20 slots a year is not enough. There were a lot of people who deserved slots in the program that we wanted to help but couldn't."

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