Bridging the Opportunity Divide

A Second Chance at the American Dream

December 1, 2017
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A Second Chance at the American Dream
Thomas Shomaker
The manufacturing sector has modernized, but many of its workers haven’t. In New York, a nonprofit bridges the gap.

“There are only three ways to create wealth: You either make it, you mine it or you grow it,” says Robert Trouskie, director of field services for the Workforce Development Institute, a New York nonprofit focused on growing and retaining well-paying jobs in the state. “The one that’s really lagged behind in the last two or three decades has been the making of things, but I think the pendulum is starting to [swing].”

Indeed, the U.S. saw about 5 million manufacturing jobs disappear between 2000 and 2014. But despite the loss, 400,000 positions still sit unfilled across the country. Most are for jobs that require special training — a need WDI has been addressing since 2003 by working with other organizations and unions to connect willing workers to available positions.

One such worker is Todd Holmquist, a recent graduate of WDI’s Accelerated Machinist Partnership, which combines classroom education with hands-on training in factories. After the aircraft plant where he worked closed in 2013, Holmquist’s income plummeted from about $80,000 a year to $20,000. He enrolled in the program just a week before his wife was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

Watch the video above to see how WDI helped turned Holmquist’s life, and employment prospects, around.

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