D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser joined leaders from around the country at the White House Wednesday for a workforce summit headed by Vice President Kamala Harris.
The nation’s infrastructure has been at the center of President Joe Biden’s agenda since taking office.
Bowser spoke about D.C.’s Infrastructure Academy where residents can get job skills in a number of different areas.
The vast majority of the more than 2,300 residents who have signed up since 2018 have gone on to good-paying jobs with companies like Pepco and Washington Gas, said Arlen Herrell, who oversees the program.
“Our graduation rate is about 90%, and depending on each of our programs, we hover around 80% employment rate,” he said.
“Depending on the job, when you come out, particularly around our core infrastructure jobs, average pay is about $22-$24 an hour,” Herrell said.
Rafael Douglas, a returning citizen, found it hard to get a good job. Now he’s training for a job with Pepco.
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“I’m really excited about this opportunity,” he said.
“My plans are actually to use this job to not only to take care of my family like my mother when I was a child, but I want to start a business as well,” Douglas said.
The academy offers various types of job training, including commercial driving and internet technology.
The training is free, and students are paid the D.C. minimum wage of $16.10 an hour while they learn.
“That’s great, because I’m also able to learn and get paid to do something I enjoy doing,” Douglas said.
Herrell and Douglas want to encourage other residents to take advantage of the free training.
“We have seen District residents who have come out of our program who have become the breadwinners for their families,” Herrell said. “We’ve seen people who have bought homes within District after coming out of our programs and even started their own businesses.”
Students don’t need any job skills or degrees to qualify for the academy. Just be a D.C. resident 18 or older.
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