WLIW21 Specials


Journey to Jobs

JOURNEY TO JOBS is a one-hour special, presented as part of the American Graduate: Getting to Work initiative, public media’s commitment to help communities illuminate pathways to gainful employment in America.

Hosted by PBS NewsHour Weekend anchor Hari Sreenivasan, JOURNEY TO JOBS highlights individuals and organizations across the country who are connecting job seekers to employment.

AIRED: October 09, 2019 | 0:57:16


>> "Journey to Jobs: A Special

Report" is part of...

"American Graduate: Getting to

Work," a public-media

initiative, made possible by...

Hi. I'm Hari Sreenivasan, and

welcome to "Journey to Jobs."

According to the

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,

the unemployment rate in

the United States has recently

hit historically low levels.

This has been good news for

workers and the American


At the same time, certain

industries report that they have

more job openings than there are

trained people to fill them.

This is most prominent in

skills-based industries, like

construction or marine trades,

where there is a growing gap

between skills of potential

workers and open positions.

Through the American Graduate

initiative, public-media

stations across the country are

generating awareness about our

changing workforce.

Over the next hour, we'll

explore how vocational and other

specialized training can lead to

high-paying jobs and lifelong

careers in skills-based


We'll also explore alternative

pathways to high-demand, skilled

careers for those facing

barriers to employment, so join

us as we travel across America

to take a look at how local

organizations and individuals

are bridging the skills gap and

creating opportunities for job


It's all ahead on "Journey to

Jobs: A Special Report," part of

"American Graduate:

Getting to Work."

First we visit Detroit,

Michigan, to meet

Felicia Wiseman, a union

electrician who is dedicated to

creating a diverse workforce in

the city's construction trades.

She's doing this by recruiting

young talent from traditionally

underrepresented groups and

teaching them the fundamental

skills needed to succeed.

Here's the story.


>> Do you want another one?


So, I am a journeyman inside


I have been in for over 20


What about you?

You finish your paperwork?

I love being out there in the

field, and I'll go toe to toe

with any of those guys any time,

any day, but I asked -- I said,

"I need to be in a position

where I can help more younger

people realize how this is done,

get more females into the

trade," and this just kind of

fell in my lap.

Once we started showing them

that, it's like, "Oh, I can make

that much money?"

Oh, yeah.

But they're not gonna pay you

that money to sit there on your

cellphone, you know, looking

cute, so you got to come there.

You got to work.

There's definitely a pot of gold

at the end of this rainbow.

>> The skills that we offer to

these students are marketable

skills, but they're skills that

can be used each and every day

of their lives.

>> Come on.

>> There is still the idea that

you got to go to college to be


>> When you go to college,

you're taking out, you know,

multiple loans, and then by the

time you finish college, you're

gonna be in debt.

You're gonna have to pay that

money back.

You know, you go in a trade, you

go out in the field while you're

learning in classes.

>> I find myself making sure

that I put certain individuals

in front of my kids, people that

look like them, because then I

know that my students can

picture themselves like them in

a few years.

>> For this and for, really, any

of the trades, the kids -- they

need to be serious about their

math classes.

>> You have to calculate, like,

what type of wire you need to

hold the electricity, and we do

math games like that...

>> N21.

>> ...math every day, to kind of

brush up on that if you need


>> You're on a jobsite.

Your phone's dead.

You don't have a calculator.

How you gonna get your



>> I'm 42 years old, and I've

lived in Detroit my entire life.

This is something amazing.

I seen the opportunity of going

from having a job to having a

career, the difference of having

just a regular 9:00-to-5:00 and

having a skill.

I was working as a supplier for

Ford, and I was doing

quality-control work there.


I think I was making $12 an


I might not even have been

making that.

When I actually started my

apprenticeship, we started off

at $17.42, so that was

a large jump.

46 on the nose.

So I'm a very proud product of

the DPS.

And at no point did I know

anything about being in the


That was something that wasn't

mentioned to me.

As a matter of fact, it was kind

of looked down upon, like if you

got a college degree, you were

better than someone, but what

I've found is that it's

completely the opposite.

I've seen some of the most

intelligent people that I've met

that's in the trades.


I don't see as many as I would

like to see when I see people

like me when I go on a jobsite,

but I think those numbers will

increase because...

we need 'em to.

>> Now we're in the midst of all

these great developments

happening in the city.

We're in the midst of a shortage

of skilled tradesworkers.

So, why not make sure that our

youth are a part of that?

>> Every day, 20 people retire

from, like, the trades, and

that's 20 spots that they need

jobs, 'cause only like one

person goes to fill that.

There's a lot of space for,

like, us to come up and work


>> There's definitely not enough

women in here, and I'm always

reaching out to females, and you

get the same thing --

"Oh, it's a dirty job,"

"Oh, it's too hard,"

"Oh, I can't do it."

I'm like, "Yeah, you're dirty,

yeah, it's a hard job, but you

know what?

You got enough money that, every

weekend, you can get your hair

did, you can get your nails did,

you can go to the spa, you can

do whatever you want to.

So, I mean, just take advantage

of the opportunities.

>> Students are learning

valuable trades skills

in another sector --

the marine trades.

For more than a century, the

primary builder of submarines

for the U.S. Navy has been

General Dynamics Electric Boat.

The company builds submarines in

Rhode Island, where the marine

trades are in need of skilled


Electric Boat is training area

high-school students to fill

that need.

Let's take a look.


>> The marine trades matter in

Rhode Island.

It's an important industry, it's

more technical, they're

good-paying jobs, and so that's

why we're focused on

the marine trades.

The key is we want to make sure

every young person who's

graduating from high school or

college can actually get a job.

And these vocational training

programs, career and technical

programs -- they're real skills,

but the key is bringing the

employers who are actually gonna

hire these people to the table.

And it's, so far, been a huge


>> About four years ago,

the Department of Education,

Department of Labor and

Training, were working together

collaboratively on

Electric Boat.

And they rolled it out to the

career and tech centers

initially, first, that this is

an opportunity that exists.

We had Electric Boat come out

into our school, sit down with

our instructor, review what's

happening here.

They rolled out what they wanted

us to accomplish, and we put

together a curriculum that fit

for the program.

>> We've always had students

that have gone to Electric Boat,

maybe, after they've graduated

and gotten jobs, but not to the

extent of what we have now with

this partnership.

So, we focus more on the

marine-trades aspect of it --

everything from marine-engine

mechanics, metalworking and

welding, composites, varnishing,

electrical work, systems,


You name it, we do it.

>> I hate sitting in class.

I can't sit still.

I have to do something with my

hands, and the way I learn,

I learn hands-on.

Well, my dad's a welder at

Electric Boat, and he'll be

sitting at dinner, talking on

what he did today and what he

welded, and I'll be like,

"For five years, I've been so

interested, I've wanted to do

it, to see what he does,"

but you can't do that at

Electric Boat.

So, like, the family day came

around, and we all went, and

then I fell in love with it.

I was like, "That's so cool.

I want to do that when I'm


I love welding. It's so cool.

>> Actually, my dad was a welder

for a long time, and I was going

for marine biology, and my mom

kind of was like, "Hey, marine

trades," so I went in and

learned about boats,

and I loved it.

We just take our simple science,

math, English, language -- two

years, at least, if you'd like

to go to a four-year college --

and we get transferred here for

three hours a day, and we're

three hours at our home school

or wherever we belong.

>> And we have Allison, who

comes in and teaches us all how

to weld.

>> Yes. I build nuclear

submarines for the navy.

I come in.

I say hello to everybody.

Sometimes we have a little

muster in the morning.

And I tell them what I would

like for them to do for that

day, and we get to it.

The kids start setting up and I

meet them in the booth and we

start welding.


I would have loved to have been

able to do this or been involved

in something like this when I

was a teenager.

They don't realize how lucky

they are.

They get to use some of the most

amazing equipment.

>> In booth 1, we have the

Lincoln, and that came directly

from Electric Boat.

That's what they use right now

at Electric Boat.

We can go into Electric Boat now

and go work there.

>> I work in Department 912.

I'm a structural welder down

here at Electric Boat.

I want to make it a career for

my whole life but definitely not

something I thought I would be


Elementary school, I always

wanted to go into the

coast guard or the

fire department.

My first two years in high

school, I took all of my

electives that I know I needed

to get done, so my junior or

senior year, 'cause I was in the

class for three periods of the

day, so half the day, I was

doing all hands-on stuff,

and the other half of the day,

I was doing schoolwork.

>> We're starting the

Columbia-class submarine soon,

so we're doing lots of building

down in Quonset.

Lots of buildings being put up,

lots of jobs are gonna be

opening, so, yes, we need


>> Among the many industries

seeking more talent, the U.S.

Bureau of Labor Statistics

reports that the healthcare

sector is projected to add more

jobs at a much faster rate than

all other occupations.

This is mainly due to an aging

population creating greater

demand for healthcare services.

In this segment on

"Journey to Jobs," we travel to

Denver, Colorado, and meet a

young mother who attended the

Colorado Area Health Education

Center, or AHEC, to gain the

certification and skills she

needed to enter this burgeoning



>> My original plan before I got

pregnant was to travel the


I didn't want to go to college.

I didn't want to, you know --

I just wanted to be free from


>> The type of students I

usually work with are

underserved youths, primarily

16-to-24-year-olds --

really, those students who don't

have the same opportunities that

other students in their school

districts or communities might


>> Where do I start?

You know, I'm a young mom, so I

just stayed home and was just --

I fell into depression.

"Where do I get my CNA?

Who's gonna support me?"

type of thing.

>> My program is called the

Health Careers

Pre-Apprenticeship Program, and

it's really a career-exploration


A lot of my students come in.

They're interested in

healthcare, but the only jobs

that they're really aware of are

nurses, CNAs, and doctors, and

healthcare is a vast field, vast

industry, to work in, and I

really try to expose them to all

the opportunities that are


>> We learn medical assisting.

We learned about the anatomy.

We've been to the cadaver lab --

just a lot of variety of

different places in healthcare.

>> Our mission can really be

summed up in three different

phrases -- so, connecting

students to careers,

professionals to communities,

and communities to better


>> Finding consistency and,

like, a stable job and a

schedule to fit my daughter's

needs was really one of my big

concerns, and I knew that in

healthcare, I could find that.

And in AHEC, I learned so many

different jobs, you know?

I could be a medical secretary.

I could be a CNA.

I could be an RN, LPN, doctor,

even research.

So, I knew that there were so

many different varieties, so

many different schedules.

>> We want healthcare providers

to look and be from the

communities that they're

serving, so that's our main

goal, is to have those primary

physicians and CNAs and nurses

all of those auxiliary

occupations to look and feel

like the communities that they


>> After I finished AHEC, it was

really easy because a lot of,

like, nursing homes or even

hospitals I didn't even know you

could get jobs with your BLS,

which is Basic Life Support.

Haley had told me about a job

fair, and I went to it, and they

didn't have a position that I

wanted to do, which was

patient-care technician.

You had to have your CNE.

But they were like,

"Hey, you have your BLS?"

"Yes, I do."

"Okay. Well, we have this job

we're trying to get finalized.

It's monitoring patients behind

the screen.

Would you like to go shadow


"Yeah, of course."

Took me back, shadowed what I

would be doing, and I had a

panel interview after that,

and I got the job.

It's such a great opportunity to


Like, if you don't know what you

want to be in the healthcare

field, this is the program to be


>> As we've seen, job seekers

can benefit from direct contact

to potential employers in the

industry of their choosing.

In Pennsylvania, for example,

Erie High School's co-op program

is making real-world job skills

part of a high-school education.

Next we see the program

in action.

>> The co-op program is very

important to Erie's community

and to WQLN because one of our

main goals in our mission is to

educate, and this is, you know,

getting in from the ground

floor, educating students before

they head off to college, kind

of helping them decide what kind

of career path they may want to


>> Well, I've always been kind

of interested in, like,

engineering -- just, like, the

broad aspect of it -- so

freshman year, I went into

pre-engineering, and I've been

in the shop ever since.

>> The student has to work

15 hours a week at a placement,

and then, also, they have to

make minimum wage.

It kind of creates a path, and I

think that's how students today

will actually learn and go into

a different path that they're

related to.

Whether it be work, whether it

be college, whether it be

military, they go into a path

that is related to that specific

area that they decide

to go into.

>> It's a good start to

mentoring and get them where

they need to be and showing them

accountability and some respect

and that kind of thing.

>> Finding employment after

military service can sometimes

be a challenge.

In Louisiana, NextOp is working

with veterans to change that.

The organization supports

veterans in their search for

employment by matching their

skills to the industries that

need the most.

Here's one success story.

>> I served 20 years in the

United States Army.

I spent the first 10 years as a

mechanized infantryman, and then

I transferred over and was in

logistical operations and

support operations for the last

10 years of my career.

It's very stressful searching

for work, 'cause, unlike

civilians, you have a

termination date.

As a civilian, you can

constantly seek other employment

while you currently have a job.

Knowing when you're gonna not

have a job anymore is difficult

in that you want to plan and be

able to transition into

something immediately upon

retirement, but companies don't

hire people six months out.

>> NextOp is the only veteran

employment and recruitment

nonprofit operating in Louisiana

and across the Gulf Coast.

Specifically, construction,

manufacturing, and energy are

the sectors that we're

interested in working with.

Since arriving in Louisiana in

late 2017, we've put over 100

veterans in careers in


Our average placement timeframe

from registration with NextOp

until you find a career is about

32 days, and our average salary

is $55,000 and above.

And in the State of Louisiana,

that's a fairly aggressive

salary to start off with once

leaving service.

>> Transition's difficult in

that you are used to a very

certain culture and an entire

lexicon and language that is not


>> You've been institutionalized

to a way of language, to

acronyms, to an understanding of

how to talk about "we" and not

"me," so you've got to kind of

demilitarize not only the

veteran on paper but the

veteran's personality.

>> One of the hardest things for

veterans to do is to get the

interview, and NextOp Vets was

instrumental in their contact

with potential employers to help

people like me get in front of

people and tell them how I can

help their business.

>> We are a very strong veteran

team, people that have both

experience in industry and in

the veteran experience, so we

act as a great connector between

these two populations, whether

it be talking to employers about

how they can access or why they

should access the

military-veteran talent


>> Finding employment with

L3 ASV through NextOp Vets was

instrumental in my family's

ability to transition

successfully and with as little

stress as possible.

>> If you have the right

attitude, you can pick up the

skills and learn the rest of it,


You're already halfway there.

Morgan has the right attitude,


He comes out wanting to work,

being here on time, picking up

the slack, seeing where problems

are, and trying to solve them.

>> You spend a lot of time

trying to plan these moves and

trying to make sure that your

family doesn't lose any quality

of life, and I was able to find

gainful employment with a great

organization immediately upon my

retirement from the service and

had no gap in my earnings or my

quality of life.

Therefore, my family didn't have

to suffer, didn't go through any

hardship during the transition.

>> Veterans and students alike

are pursuing another kind of

high-demand, skilled career --

becoming a pilot.

The Federal Aviation

Administration is forecasting a

pilot shortage for regional

airlines, and LIFT Academy in

Indianapolis, Indiana, is trying

to get ahead of it.

With the help of

Republic Airways, this school is

teaching its students how to fly

planes and operate cutting-edge


The program gives new

opportunities to many who

thought an aviation career was

only a dream.

[ Indistinct radio chatter ]

>> LIFT Academy is a flight

school located here in

Indianapolis, Indiana, and we

are training pilots from zero

experience straight into a

career at the airlines.


Our pilots have a guaranteed job

at Republic Airways as a first

officer, and they can start

their career from zero

experience and have a career in


>> It's everything that I wanted

to do, 'cause, you know, flying

was so expensive, doing it out

of pocket.

The lesson plans are there, the

cost is there, guaranteed job.

You can't beat that.

>> My hands hurt.

>> Students can be right out of

high school, or they can be

career changers.

We even have quite a few

students who transition from


>> I started in the Air Force

April 27th of 2010.

One of the commanders from the

72nd ARS came over to me from

Grissom and said, "Hey, what you

doing with this medical thing?

You want to be a pilot?"

I started to look into the

possibility of becoming a boom

operator and then applying for

an age waiver to be an Air Force


"Sure, I'll put gas in planes

and lay on my belly."

The Air Force has treated me

well, but I've come to the point

now where being deployed is not

really a good deal for my


Kind of putting my family first

and my adventures first and just

thanking the Air Force for

giving me the propulsion.

>> My name's Mike.

I spent 22 years in investment

banking and then decided to

become a pilot.

At age 44, this is embarking on

a second career, where I look

around and a lot of the students

are either fresh out of college

or what have you.

And, hopefully, I bring a little

bit of a different background

and different experience that

can be additive, and I really

look at my role, as well, to be

a mentor to some of these

younger folks, as well.

>> It's pretty hard.

There's a lot of licenses to get

and a lot of studying, for sure.

>> The simulator is basically a

plane, except you aren't

in the air.

The technology is brand-new.

They actually put it together as

if they would a real airplane,

but they just don't put an

engine in it.

>> Just hop in there and

basically do whatever you don't

feel so sure on.

You can just get in there and

just practice it and keep on

practicing the procedures.

>> Nice. Good job.

>> Every business leader,

regardless of what industry

you're in, is focused on

workforce development.

There's a major talent crunch

over the next two decades.

>> I started pulling up more and

did some calculations.

>> That talent crunch is gonna

leave us with a gap of about

8 million employees for skilled

manufacturing and skilled

technician jobs over the next

decade and a half.

That's a real issue, and we need

to do more as business leaders.

LIFT Academy was designed just

with that purpose.

>> The pilot shortage isn't just

focused here in Indianapolis.

It's global.

It's a global issue, and we're

trying to solve that here on the

local level to hopefully have

impact on at least the national

level if not worldwide.

So right now there's a lot of

opportunity to build a new,

diverse cockpit and bring people

who may not have thought of it

as a career before as an option

for them.

>> One thing that I like to tell

young girls and women is,

"Don't be afraid to do it."

It is a male-dominated career,

but don't let that intimidate

you because we are trying to

change that.

>> You know, aviation is the

great equalizer, I think.

I think regardless of what your

background is, whether you have

a high-school education or a

college education or graduate

school or what have you, or, in

my case, regardless of what your

previous career was, I think

there's a path for everyone here

to the extent that you have a

passion for this type of


>> Follow your dreams because,

honestly, I was just in high

school, like, this year, and now

I'm flying airplanes every

single day.

>> For some youth, the journey

to jobs includes a two-prong

approach -- learning a skill

while completing their


In El Paso, Texas, two programs,

YouthBuild and

Workforce Solutions Borderplex,

provide young talent the

opportunity to obtain

construction certification while

also completing their GED.

Here's a look.

>> So, El Paso is really growing

right now.

Our unemployment rate

is very low.

It hovers around 4% or even a

little bit lower at times.

We have about $1 billion worth

of highway construction going on

right now, and that's taken a

lot, I think, of the skilled

labor in the industry.

>> In a recent survey of

hundreds of site selectors and

companies that are looking to

expand or relocate, when asked

what the number-one

consideration is when they look

at a community in which to

expand or relocate, it is

workforce -- an available

trained or trainable workforce.

The things that

Workforce Solutions Borderplex

are doing is absolutely

phenomenal in getting our young

adults trained for skills that

are relevant in our particular

marketplace and jobs.

>> One day I was just looking

for work, and they told me about


They called me and they told me

if I'm interested in doing


I was like, "What? Construction?

Should I?"

I'm the very first girl to work

for High Ridge, so, yeah,

it feels good.

>> A lot of these kids just need

someone to believe in them.

When someone believes in them,

they start to believe in


In 17 weeks, they will be

getting introductions into

construction, like digging for

pipes, laying pipes,

construction math, preparing the

house from the foundation all

the way up.

In addition to that, on Fridays,

they were working to achieve

their GED.

>> I am a plumber's helper.

That's what they call "chelan."

I'm learning.

It feels good to know that I

actually know how to put a water

heater in or a sink.

>> Having that opportunity to

get hands on and really

experience and be able to walk

away from something and see the

final product is something that

they're proud of.

When it's finished, they can

say, "Hey, look.

I was a part of that."

And that's powerful.

>> Whether it's teaching our

young people soft skills,

teaching them how to interview,

teaching them how to dress, all

the way to getting the relevant

skills, whether it's

construction, whether it's

business services, whether it's

logistics, they do a phenomenal

job, and that puts our

community, that puts our region,

in a much more competitive stand

in terms of trying to get these

jobs to come to our region and

retaining jobs, as well.

>> El Paso's beautiful, and our

young people are amazing and

talented, and we have a

treasure, and that's what we're


We're developing that treasure.


>> Young people can also pursue

high-demand, skilled careers in

a university setting.

For example, in this next

"Journey to Jobs" segment,

we learn how universities in

Nashville, Tennessee, are laying

the groundwork for a diverse

skilled workforce in the

geosciences through a project

called Earth Horizons.


>> Put it all the way down, and

then I'll try it.

>> I am studying the water that

will go into the drinking water

that Nashville does use, and I

never thought that I would be

doing that.

It's just something that people

of my background normally

don't do.

I am in love with conservation

and sustainability.

It wasn't until I came to

Tennessee State University this

semester that I even considered

geosciences, because in my mind,

it was all oil and gas.

So knowing that there are more

options now is helping me kind

of map out what I might want

to do.

>> It's so cold right now.

>> Yeah.

>> So, the way we explain the

geosciences to students is to

say, "You can work for the

National Park Service.

You can be a park ranger.

You can work for the

Forest Service.

You can work for NOAA and study

weather -- weather and weather


So there's many different places

that you can work and careers

you can do within the


>> So, the program's called

Earth Horizons, and it's a

National Science

Foundation-funded project that

is aiming to create a

collaboration between

Vanderbilt University and TSU

specifically to create a

geoscience pathway where one did

not exist before.

>> The East Pacific is right


>> TSU had a history of

preparing students for the


I knew that Vanderbilt had a

strong earth and environmental

science program and they

offered courses in things that

we didn't provide here, so,

naturally, they're 3 miles away.

If we can form this relationship

to increase the number of

students, especially minority

students, pursuing the geo- or

environmental sciences, it was

the perfect partnership waiting

to happen.

>> The idea of having a

partnership with an HBCU is not

unique in itself, but the idea

that it's focused on geoscience

pathways is very unique.

>> There's more light blue


The lighter blue it is, the

closer it is to zero down here

on the margin.

>> In the Earth Horizons

program, I'm teaching the entry

point into the program, which is

an introductory geosciences

course here at TSU.

We're in the third week of the

class, and the students are

learning about plate tectonics.

So, pull your maps out.

It was really exciting because

it's hard and they were kind of

frustrated at first and confused

and asked lots of questions, but

by the time we got to the end of

that second piece, they really

felt empowered.

>> They're usually higher


>> Yeah!

We did come into this with our

eyes open about the fact that

we're bringing two different

cultures together --

academic cultures, social

cultures, groups that don't know

each other well.

As we started thinking about TSU

students coming to Vanderbilt

courses and Vanderbilt students

coming to courses here at TSU,

we wanted to make sure that we

were very thoughtful in

providing, in both cases, the

richest possible experience.

[ Indistinct conversations ]


>> I think that it's important

for people of color to be in the

geosciences because our

communities are affected by

them -- things like water crisis

and overall bad health that if

we are unaware and if we do not

know what is happening in those

communities or don't have a hand

in it, then they will continue

to happen and we won't have any

control over it.

>> There we go.

>> Yeah.

>> I feel like you have to

completely understand the world

that you live in.

You need the geology, you need

the environmental sciences in

order to completely wrap your

mind around solving any problem,

and I feel like I just --

I love the idea of solving a

problem one day, so I want that

to be my legacy.

>> Alright.

>> For those whose path does not

include college, imagine having

the chance to learn a new

technical skill from scratch at

no cost.

On our next stop, we visit

Miami, Florida, where a

nonprofit organization called

LaunchCode provides free

computer-programming courses

with hands-on job training.

Here's how.

>> LaunchCode's a nonprofit, and

our mission is to help people

from diverse backgrounds start

careers in technology.

We do that by providing free

coding education and then

working with those individuals

who go through our programs and

with employers to place those

individuals into



Our normal class runs for

20 weeks part-time.

That's the boot-camp program.

We call it LC101.

>> Details as to where in your

code the exception occurs.

>> We have a particular emphasis

on giving access to people

coming from underrepresented

background in terms of those

underrepresented in technology


>> I think LaunchCode is such a

blessing because I looked at

other programs, and the cost was

like $10,000, and there was no

way that I could afford that.

So I was very excited there was

gonna be a session starting


>> When someone finishes those

first 20 weeks, some students

we'll be able to place them into

an apprenticeship with our

employer partners, and then, for

some students, they'll continue

to work to hone both their

technical and their soft skills,

and we support them through that

process as they're building out

their interviewing skills,

building out a portfolio of work

that they can use to demo to


>> That's why I'm taking

LaunchCode -- to get me prepared

for those interviews and jobs.

After LaunchCode, I'm thinking

about getting a job, my first

job programming.

My goal is to be an application


>> My name is

Lasaly Changkachith, and I am

the Customer Success Associate

here at Watsco, Inc., for the

Mobile Apps Development team.

Primarily, I am helping the

Mobile Apps Development team

test the app as well as

evaluating the developers' code

and testing the software to make

sure that it's working, and then

I will let the developers know

or my project lead know

what the issues are.

>> Lasaly did one of our classes

over a year ago now, and she

just has a magnetic personality

from the moment you meet her.

Her background prior to taking a

LaunchCode class was that she

was in the medical field.

She decided that, ultimately,

she was more curious about the

technology world, and not only

did she excel, she was the kind

of person who always looked to

support those who were around

her in the class.

So, when we were looking at who

to match to this particular

opportunity we had with Watsco,

it's a role that sort of

interfaces between developers

and clients, and we knew that

Lasaly had sort of the right

blend of technical and people

skills to just knock it out of

the park with that role.

>> Watsco has hired me

full-time, so I have been

matriculated out of the

apprentice program.

I think continuing my education,

continuing to develop and to

grow, was motivated by my

children because I wanted them

to see that.

A value that we have as a family

is, like, continue to grow in

some form or another.

>> We have as much or more

success with programs like

LaunchCode as we do through

working with traditional

recruiting firms.

>> Employers are more and more

willing to hire based on

portfolios and showing what you

know rather than having a piece

of paper that says,

"I did course X," and so in that

20-week time span, it might be

hard to believe, but you can

acquire the foundational skills

that will enable you to go into

a work environment and learn on

the job and, in a relatively

short amount of time, become a

productive member of a

software-development team.

The students who graduate our

program and get placed into the

jobs with our employer partners

make an average salary of around

$50,000 a year, so, effectively,

they're 3x'ing their salary,

in some cases.

>> LaunchCode provided me with

the ability to be able to speak

the tech language as well as the

knowledge to look at the code

that I am presented and to be

able to take that information

and be able to communicate with

my team members.

If I didn't have that skill,

I don't think that I would be


>> Training programs can equip

workers with a host of skills

that open doors to high-demand

careers, but for some,

skill-building is only one part

of a journey to employment.

In this next part of our

"American Graduate: Getting to

Work" special report, we see how

dedicated individuals are

supporting fellow community

members on their journey to


Today a couple in Tucson,

Arizona, are successful business

owners, but they didn't start

out that way.

After struggling with substance

abuse and serving time in

prison, the couple created a new

beginning by starting their own

cleaning business.

Now they're helping others with

similar challenges gain

employment and job skills.

Here's the story.


>> This bridge here is actually

an underpass underneath I-19,

and this is where I lived for a

few years of my life.

Being strung out on heroin and

cocaine, intravenously, I was

using about $250 a day.

When I was in prison, I really

thought about the people that I

had hurt and the damage that I

had caused, so I made the

decision that, when I got out, I

wouldn't commit any more


It was the best I could do at

that time, you know --

no more felonies.

Misdemeanors are okay, but no

more felonies.

I got a job as a janitor.

It wasn't my life's goal to be a

janitor, but that was my

starting point.

>> In 2006, I was released from


I went to a treatment center in

Tucson, Arizona, and, at that

point, shortly after you get

there, you go on job search.


From the time that I started

looking for employment when I

got out of prison to the time

that I got a job, I'd probably

say about 50 applications, and

that's not including the cold

calls -- "Hey, are you hiring?"

You know?

And it's just daunting.

I was about two years in

recovery, he was about a year in

recovery, and we met going to a

faith-based recovery meeting.

We got married in January of

2010, and it's been --

Like, you bring your stuff into

your marriage, but when you live

those types of lifestyles, you

bring a lot of stuff.

[ Chuckles ]

>> So, you're done in there?

>> Yeah.

>> Jennifer and I purchased

TrueCore Cleaning in October of


I actually signed for the

purchase of the company on my

10-years-sober anniversary on

that day I put the pen to paper,

which is a tremendous testimony.

We purchased TrueCore Cleaning

for a couple of reasons.

One, we wanted to be able to do

our nonprofit work for free.

Number two is we wanted to have

the opportunity to provide

opportunities for other people.

>> I appreciate my second


And I'm not gonna take it for

granted, 'cause when I was in

prison, I thought, like, you

know, like all the stuff I've

done, so for me to have a second

chance is -- is a blessing.

>> It's just surreal.

This is where I'm at.

This what we do.

This is who we are.

And it took us awhile to get


I tell people all the time --

I'm really honest --

like, this is -- this is

difficult, but it's doable.

>> I have compassion for people/

I have love for people.

But I don't do well with


I crawled out from under a

bridge, and it took a lot of

hard work, a lot of pain, a lot

of tears.

So just stay focused on your

goals and drive towards them no

matter what society tells you.

>> Students at

Tascosa High School in Amarillo,

Texas, have created a program to

end weekend hunger for teens in

their community.

As leaders of the program,

they're learning valuable job


Let's take a look.


>> I'm a co-sponsor of

FISH Club, which is

a student organization,

and that stands for

Friends in Service for Hunger.

The founder and leader of

Snack Pak 4 Kids made contact

with us and said, "You know,

I've got another idea for you."

>> They kind of look at me,

and I said, "There's hungry

students on your campus.

You have friends that are hungry

at your high school."

So then I met with them one

spring, and I said, "Hey, how do

we create a solution on your

campus that you run, kids have

their dignity and respect

maintained, they are anonymous,

yet we give first-rate, quality

food, quality service to our

students, and how do we create a

model that can be replicated?"

A student in middle school or

high school goes online, orders

from a menu of 37 items.

They get a custom bag, and it's

delivered to their favorite

teacher, coach, staff member on

that campus with nothing but

their student ID on that bag.

>> One team packs the bags

and the orders.

We just have a piece of paper,

and we follow the order and put

everything into the bag, and on

Thursday, we deliver them, and

then the mini-groups can come in

here, and they just grab all the

bags for their hallway and

deliver it to the teacher's name

that it says on the label.

>> Tascosa is the biggest school

in Amarillo and the biggest

school in the panhandle,

for that matter.

We are over 2,300 students at

this time.

We are a very diverse school,

and we're economically diverse,

probably from the poorest to the

richest, and then we are very

multicultural on our campus.

When they go to college and they

have opportunity for service

projects or when they get their

jobs later on life, they will

know these type of things are

available, and they can help.

But it just gives them a spirit

of service.

>> These kids count on us.

They count on us to be able to

eat on the weekends, and while

we don't know the specific

individual, it could be somebody

we sit next to in math class or

walk down the hall with, but we

know how much it means to them,

and these teachers tell us

continuously how grateful they

are, because they know that

student and know just how

important it is.

>> Who better to solve a problem

on a high-school campus than

high-school students?

What we've done, and I think

this is important, is we've

taken our knowledge and our

mistakes and our success from

here, and we have created a


These students here at Tascosa

have written a manual that is

now copyrighted and trademarked.

>> We're developing leaders.

The students who are running

this program and making

decisions and problem-solving

when things come up and working

with each other, with people

they know or don't know,

they are really developing

some skills.

>> In Tacoma, Washington,

the Pierce County Library System

has established itself as a

valuable resource for job

seekers and business owners


We go inside one library for the



>> I think one of the most

important and magical things

about the library is the support

that a library can give to you,

whether you're a student needing

to do research or it's summer

break and you need a book to

read or you're wanting to take

an adventure and become your own


The Job + Business Center is one

of those services that we've

designed specifically to meet a

key need that was identified in

Pierce County.

>> With the advent of the

Internet, we no longer needed to

have lots of books for


We could go online and find the


So we needed to kind of

transition from being a

reference department into

something else, and, at the same

time, we saw that there was a

huge increase in the number of

jobs seekers.

JBC, or Job + Business Centers,

is both a physical and virtual


At six of our big branches,

we have dedicated space

with computers, with printers,

and staff that can help

businesses and job seekers.

We're not business experts.

We have no expertise in


We are information experts that

have dedicated databases that we

have purchased and software and

things of that nature that

anyone who is starting a

business or wants to get a job

would need.

You can actually go and look at

an existing business plan.

Let's say you want to open a


And you can see what the

business plan for a restaurant

looks like, and that gives you

some sort of a template.

But then you need to find out

information about who your

customers are.

We can help you using a tool

called Demographics Now, which

is one of our databases.

Actually find out who your

customers are in the area that

you're interested in opening

your business.

The virtual space has become so


The aim was to make it so

that the patrons can use the

database themselves rather than

somebody to interpret all that

information for them.

You can buy those reports,

by the way.

If you go online, they might

sell it to you for $240,

but it's free at the library.

>> Knowing who exists in the

county, who's doing services

that support business, is

probably the key for the


We know who they are so that we

can then use that information to

say, "We've showed you and

shared with you the resources

available through the library,

and here's the connection to

take you to the next step."

>> Spaceworks is a small

nonprofit that works with

artists and entrepreneurs.

We bring in experts from the

Pierce County Library to talk

about market research and all of

the resources and the databases

that are out there that

entrepreneurs can use to do

their market research.

The value of the information is


Having that data behind your

business plan really informs

where you're gonna go to

efficiently make money.

We forget that the library's

resource for adults as well as

kids, and being able to walk in

as a small-business owner and

actually have somebody sit down

and talk with you about your

business and how to do research

and how to actually make smart

decisions as a business owner

for free is absolutely


>> In this part of our "American

Graduate: Getting to Work"

special report, we see how

organizations can support those

facing challenges on their

journey to jobs.

Transitioning into the

professional world can be a

daunting experience for any

teenager but even more so for

foster youth that have aged out

of the foster-care system.

National reports show that

emancipated foster youth can

have a harder time finding and

keeping employment than their


This is a problem that

The RightWay Foundation in

Los Angeles, California,

is tackling head on.

Here's the story.


>> When we first started giving

our jobs to foster-care youth,

we noticed right away that they

were getting fired quicker than

they were getting hired, and it

wasn't no fault of their own.

It was homelessness and then


So then I took a step back and

said, "Well, it's not just job

readiness we need.

We need more mental-health


>> We are exposed to a lot of

trauma, a lot of --

There's a lot of PTSD-ish stuff

going on.

We're more sensitive than most.

>> So then I made a transition

to hire a lot of mental-health

persons to provide therapy while

we're doing the job-readiness

training, so I merged the two,

and so when you say,

"Job development," it's really

therapy and job development, and

we came up with that concept,

and we called it

Operation Emancipation.

>> The Operation Emancipation

program is a program that helps

you -- basically teaches you

soft skills and hard skills to

work in a professional

environment, so they always want

to make sure that we're mentally

ready for any pressure that

might be put upon us.

>> Emancipated foster youth is

youth that has aged out of the

foster-care system,

hopefully 21 years old.

Sometimes they can age out of

the system at 18, depending if

they want to volunteer and stay

in the system.

>> Franco and

The RightWay Foundation first

find youth that they feel would

be suitable for, one, passing a

background check, but be great

team members.

We're looking for hospitality

experience, so once they go

through the program with Franco,

they come and interview with us,

and then they're hired.

>> I'm excited about the

financial opportunity LAX is

gonna give me, like, just by

having this full-time job.

>> RightWay Foundation took it a

step further about four years

ago that created trauma-informed

workplace mentoring.

That's where we teach the

companies how to work with our

population, how to deal with our

youth, and to really become

active and get involved and to

play a mentorship role.

>> Some of the challenges is

really training our managers on

the background of some of the

youth that are in the

foster-care system and the

trauma that they've experienced.

>> They're very open to taking

the training because it's

something that not only helps

them kind of understand the

experiences of the youth that we

serve but also for all their

other employees, and what it

covers is just sort of like the

basics of trauma, kind of what

trauma looks like, you know,

noting individual differences.

And then we talk more about the

kind of crux of it is really

sort of building relationships,

because that's really the

foundation of what we do here,

is, you know, everything has its

foundation in building a

relationship, with building

rapport, building trust, and

that's a lot of what we cover in

that trauma-informed training.

It's really how to do that.

>> I think the biggest key is

knowing the background and

trauma that some of the youth

have experienced and feeling a

level of empathy and being able

to articulate and communicate

properly with the team members.

Often, messages are lost just on

how they're said.

It's not what you're saying,

it's how you're saying it.

And so the training is really

gonna inform them of that so

that they can be more cognizant

and conscious of it when

coaching and training those

team members.

>> I think one of my goals for

after completing the program

would be to start my own

nonprofit, start my own kind of

business, you know, in helping

people, especially Latina

mothers in the community.

This is the best place to get

your mind right, to get your

money right, to get yourself

right, to get your person right.

>> And when you feel that

overwhelmed and you feel like

breaking down, that's because

something great is right around

the corner.

>> We're improving the local

neighborhood and local community

by supporting foster youth, and

I think this is a great program

that we're looking to hopefully

expand across the country and

support our operations in other


>> Next we go to Springfield,

Missouri, where a local

organization called the

Arc of the Ozarks is matching

individuals with disabilities to

employment opportunities that

fit their skills.


>> One of our biggest weaknesses

in the State of Missouri is

getting people with disabilities

employed, and I'm a firm

believer that helping someone

with a disability find

employment is paramount to their


>> The mission of the

Arc of the Ozarks is to support

individuals with disabilities

and directing their own lives as

valued members of the community.

We give our individuals

self-directed services, so it's

all about choice, how they want

to live their life, and then we

develop a support plan around

that to make sure they reach all

of their goals and aspirations

that they have in their life.

So, if an individual comes to us

and they say, "I want to work,"

we start from the beginning and

we work with them through the

end on how to find a job, making

sure it's the right job match.

We look at their skills, their

abilities, their desires to

work, and we find an employer in

the community that matches

that job.

>> Not only is he the best

worker we got, he's the best

person we got in the building

right here -- Joe Quinn.

>> Joe had several jobs

throughout the years, none of

which really stuck, so when we

met with Hy-Vee and started

talking to them about Joe, we

really led in with his skills

and abilities.

He is the most friendly guy


He always has a smile on his


He's always just ready to talk

to people and ready to help


So, he is one of their

customer-service clerks out


He helps bag the groceries.

He helps get carts.

He helps customers in and out

with their groceries, and people

just love going in and seeing

Joe, seeing the smile on his


It really makes people's day.

>> I first met him in our

Community Connections


We were able to support Joe in

going to his volunteer sites,

learning how to use the bus


>> So, I take the city bus a


That's how I get around and


When I first worked here, I was

trying to meet, like, more

people here at work, and so I

was trying to communicate with

other people.

>> If they're employed for a

year or 20 years,

Employment Solutions is always

here to support them.

So, at any time, they can call

us and say, you know,

"Something's changed at work.

I got a new manager" or

"I'm learning a new task."

And we'll go back out there and

support them with that.

It's a very fulfilling thing

when you see them realize their

worth and how good they're gonna

do at this job, and they know

they have a team behind them,

supporting them and cheering

them on.

It really gives them a lot of

self-value, self-worth,

self-esteem, as well.

>> You, too.


>> Finally, a bakery in

Syracuse, New York, is also in

the business of empowering

people on their journey to jobs.

Provisions Bakery hires

individuals affected by mental

illness, immersing them in a

positive and supportive

environment to gain the skills

needed to secure and maintain

competitive employment.


>> People who come to Provisions

sometimes are dealing with not

only mental disabilities but

also physical disabilities

in ways.

Some have worked before.

Some have never had a job before

in their life.

And Provisions is just a way to

teach them skills and let them

go into the real world with

those skills.

>> Provisions Bakery is an

employment program of


AccessCNY is a nonprofit

organization that's focused on

helping people with disabilities

achieve independence.

The bakery is operated by five

full-time AccessCNY staff who

support 20 to 25 individuals who

are in mental-health recovery.

>> I was diagnosed with

obsessive-compulsive disorder,

OCD, in 2002.

What really was difficult for me

in gaining and keeping

employment was the anxiety that

I would have over certain things

that happened, and a lot of it

was my own perception of things

more than what the reality of

the situation was.

>> Provisions is more than just

teaching job skills.

It's about teaching life skills.

For instance, for our staff, if

they are not in a great place in

their recovery and they're

having a bad day, they try to

call in in the morning.

Well, we don't have an answering

machine for them to tell us

they're not gonna be at work

that day.

They need to talk to someone.

We need them to talk through

that moment.

If there's issues with

transportation, we help staff

navigate those, as well.

All those barriers to

employment, which sometimes are

put up by the community but

sometimes are put up by the

individuals themselves --

it's our job to teach them those

life skills in addition to the

job skills that we teach them

within the bakery.

>> Go ahead and clean up.

I'm gonna run these out front,


Thank you for doing them.

They look very nice.

>> All the managers here really

work with you, really take the

time to sit down and talk to you

about what you're going through.

I just felt like this was my

safe place, that I was

comfortable here.

>> Our relationship's just like

any other employee.

You got it?

Yes, we are staff.

We're more like the manager.

But we're still bakers working

together, working to make a loaf

of bread or a batch of cookies.

Like, we're a team, because we

are there for them, and we want

to help them be the best that

they can be.

>> I've been given many, many

chances here.

I have had to take time off.

I actually left for a whole

entire year.

My manager, Susan --

for the whole entire year, I

called her every single Friday.

She wanted to know how I was

doing, what was going on, and

when we both felt like I was in

a place to come back, like,

I came back, and I just think

that really shows, like,

how much they care.

>> At Provisions, our goal is

always to have someone with us

for a period of maybe a year and

a half to two years, but the

goal -- and the trainees know

this when they come in -- is to

look to the future.

What comes after this?

You're here now.

Let's teach you the things we

can teach you, but we want to

move you to a more permanent

employment, and that's what

Provisions is all about.

>> About a year ago, I started

as a peer support specialist

with the Berkana Respite House

in Eastwood.

For the first six months or so,

I worked as one of those

peer-support specialists, and

then I was promoted to assistant

manager at the Berkana House.

And I've done that right up to

the present, and, again, it's

been really a good challenge

for me.

I think it's been really a great

fit for what I'm looking for.

>> You know, for a lot of the

people that we serve, when you

walk in to Provisions and you

become employed there, people

are oftentimes at the lowest

point of their life, and they

feel like they don't know where

they're going or what help is

available to them.

By working at Provisions, we can

teach them the skills but also

help them build confidence in

themselves so they can leave

Provisions and be more

successful within their own


>> I have heard that over the

years, since they opened up in

the 1980s, there's been about

1,000 people that have worked


It's just fulfilled everything

that they hoped it would be when

they opened it.

>> So, as Provisions moved

forward, our hope is to knock

down the stigma of mental health

and help people get back to


>> I think when I first started

working here, I was ashamed of

my diagnosis.

I just felt misunderstood.

I feel at this point in my life

like I'm not ashamed

of who I am.

I don't label myself as just


It's just something that I have,

and, like, this place has helped

sculpt me into the person

I am today.

I'm proud of the person that I

am today.

[ Bell dings ]

>> The journey to jobs can be

different for everyone, and, as

we've seen, no matter the path

taken, success can depend upon

dedicated individuals and


They support and nurture

job seekers and equip them with

essential skills to open doors

to new opportunities and

fulfilling and prosperous


I'm Hari Sreenivasan.

Thanks for watching.


"Journey to Jobs: A Special

Report" is part of "American

Graduate: Getting to Work,"

a public-media initiative,

made possible by...







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