”When I grow up I want to be a supply chain analyst.”

You don’t hear these words too often — but I’m hoping that changes fast.

When I was a child my siblings and I would sit around the kitchen table and tell our parents about the jobs we might hold as adults. My mother bought me a bag with bandages and a toy thermometer. I wanted to be a nurse.

Radiologic technologist debit card specialist and yes supply chain analyst just weren’t common terms back then. But today these jobs — and thousands more — are providing opportunities to people entering or re-entering the workforce.

I know encouraging words can ring false when even big employers like NASA and UTMB are letting workers go and when companies — especially small businesses — are still recovering from the impacts of Hurricanes Ike Katrina and Rita. But in times like these knowledge is power.

On this Labor Day I encourage everyone to help spread the word about the options and resources for those striving so hard to join the workforce.

The right knowledge and assistance — especially training — are putting people back to work. In particular they’re a lifeline for people who thought they had a secure job and would never have to reinvent themselves.

Consider Sheila Jolley who discovered a second career in health care IT when her customer service job was outsourced. She would have struggled to find another position in the publishing industry which is predicted to shrink by nearly 20 percent by 2018. But Sheila knew about possibilities in health care — expected to add 3.2 million jobs by 2018 — and enrolled in a program to learn medical billing and coding.

When Greg Matlock lost a job he’d held for eight years he enrolled in classes through his local One-Stop Career Center.

After graduating with a wind turbine technician certificate he is now happily re-employed in the recycling industry.

In just one year Workforce Investment Act Adult and Displaced Worker programs placed 685000 workers in new jobs. Resources like these are helping workers across the country including in Texas. Did you know there are two One-Stop Career Centers in the Galveston area? See for yourself at www.ServiceLocator.org.

Type ”manufacturing” into www.MySkillsMyFuture.org. Yes manufacturing — where innovative technologies will become high-quality jobs thanks to efforts like the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership.

If time and money are tight go to www.CareerOneStop.orgEducationTraining for short-term training programs near you and information about grants loans and scholarships.

The journey to a thriving workforce starts at America’s kitchen tables with dreams of a better future and jobs we never imagined as children — like medical records technician or energy efficiency engineer. It builds strength through resources that help individuals find and qualify for new opportunities in growing fields.

And it culminates with the high-quality jobs that will push us out of this recession and into economic leadership for many Labor Days to come.

Hilda L. Solis is the U.S. secretary of labor.


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