Montgomery County funds up to $15K to help people train for new career opportunities

Franceska Armstrong was also inspired by family to start a new career path. After being laid off from her job at a robotics company, Armstrong decided to follow her father’s footsteps and work toward a welding career. Her first step took her to Hobart Welding School in Troy to get her welding certification.

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Franceska Armstrong was also inspired by family to start a new career path. After being laid off from her job at a robotics company, Armstrong decided to follow her father’s footsteps and work toward a welding career. Her first step took her to Hobart Welding School in Troy to get her welding certification.

A week after Ohio’s COVID-19 shutdown happened, the restaurant where Colt Black had worked for five years padlocked its doors. He’d spent 20 years in the restaurant industry, and only six months earlier, he’d earned a promotion to an executive chef position.

“It was really a stiff punch in the stomach,” Black said. “My income was above average, and it was a big hit to lose the job as executive chef.”

After the job loss, Black collected unemployment insurance benefits for four months, but he knew it wasn’t a long-term solution. He also knew his previous industry could take some time for a recovery.

“I knew I wouldn’t be able to return to the restaurant industry, and definitely not at the same income level I had before the pandemic.”

Black learned about a program for funding workforce development from his uncle, who runs a small trucking company. He did some research and found more information about the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) funding for job training through the OhioMeansJobs office in Montgomery County.

High-demand careers supported by WIOA include construction trades, such as electrician, plumber, carpenter, and roofer, as well as machinist, welder, network/computer support, and truck driver.

Black used the funding to get a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) through Clark State Community College’s truck driver program. “After I first made contact, it was a couple of weeks, and I was already set up,” he said. “I didn’t hesitate. I realized I had a good opportunity.”

Now, Black is working with his uncle and getting to see the entire process of running a trucking company-- from the driving to dispatch, accounting, and billing. He sees his transition as fueling a future of financial independence.

Franceska Armstrong was also inspired by family to start a new career path. After being laid off from her job at a robotics company, Armstrong decided to follow her father’s footsteps and work toward a welding career. Her first step took her to Hobart Welding School in Troy to get her welding certification.

“I asked how I could get into school and, at the time, I didn’t have any money,” she said. Hobart Welding School referred her to the County’s Workforce Development division, and because of the demand for welders and the fact Armstrong was laid off, she qualified for a grant through WIOA. It paid for her to attend and graduate from welding school. To get admitted to the school though, she needed to pass an entrance exam which included a lot of math, not Armstrong’s strong suit.

WIOA came through once again by providing Armstrong with a math tutor through the Miami Valley Career Technology Center. She passed the exam and began her coursework at Hobart. Within a few weeks after graduation, Armstrong was hired and began working at Techmetals in Dayton.

“Welding is challenging, and I think that’s why I’m so passionate. I can fail a thousand times, but once I lay that perfect bead, I feel accomplished and proud.”

Black feels that pride, too. “If it wasn’t for that program, I’d probably be working multiple jobs right now. It gave me the opportunity to build a career. I’ve recommended it to all my friends and told them they could get their HVAC license, welding certification, anything in the trades. It’s something great that Montgomery County provides – to invest in people like that.”

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