West Virginia Women Work was recognized this week for its work helping women secure jobs in non-traditional occupations.
For years, the nonprofit has helped women explore the skilled trades with a 12-week, pre-apprenticeship program that offers free training in carpentry, electrical work, plumbing, masonry and welding.
The organization was one of seven state programs honored this week with the Power of Performance Putting People to Work award.
Presented by the Alliance of Economic Development of Southern West Virginia, in partnership with the West Virginia Communities Development Hub and Coalfield Development at the Small Communities-Big Solutions conference in Charleston, the award recognizes programs that help underserved and at-risk communities, including adults in recovery.
West Virginia Women Work Executive Director Carol Phillips said she was excited to learn the program was recognized for helping women enter fields where they can make a livable wage.
“It seems like a small award but it’s huge because it touches on what we do, which is putting people to work, so we were so excited, glad to be honored with that,” Phillips said. “We were so flattered by that because sometimes I think the work we do goes a little unnoticed, but it didn’t go unnoticed by this group.”
The apprenticeship program opens a door to new career opportunities, allowing the women to go on to work in a full apprenticeship under a journeyman or master of a skilled trade, earning hours while learning on the job.
“Both our Morgantown and Charleston classes are pouring concrete,” Phillips said. “It’s to get them familiar with hand tools, entry level skilled trades training with the goal of placing them in an entry level or apprenticeship position in the skilled trades.”
The women help their communities by putting their new found skills to use, volunteering with groups like Habitat for Humanity and 4-H, helping to rebuild cabins and wire houses.
“Kisha, our Morgantown coordinator, and Nicole down in Charleston, they do an amazing job in making sure our students are putting those skills to use even before they graduate,” Phillips said.