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Gov. Justice celebrates newest Jobs & Hope graduates: “Hire these people!”

Graduates earned OSHA 10 certification after completing 28-day Heavy Equipment Operations course at Camp Dawson
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CHARLESTON, WV – Several West Virginians are on a pathway to meaningful employment and have a renewed sense of purpose thanks to Gov. Jim Justice’s life-changing Jobs & Hope West Virginia program.

Today, the Governor hosted a ceremony to celebrate the newest class of Jobs & Hope graduates.
Nine program participants completed a Heavy Equipment Operations course, spending 28 days at Camp Dawson near Kingwood getting hands-on training from the West Virginia National Guard, earning their OSHA 10 certification. Participants also received interview training and résumé building tips from the program’s dedicated Transition Agents.

The graduation ceremony was held at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center – which is also hosting the annual West Virginia Construction and Design Expo this week, providing graduates with the opportunity to network with potential employers. The Contractors Association of West Virginia, a staple of the Expo, has also been instrumental to the Jobs & Hope program, conducting on-site interviews for graduates of this class, as well as prior classes of graduates.

During the ceremony, the Governor urged employers to hire the Jobs & Hope graduates on the spot.

“Hire these people,” Gov. Justice said. “These people have done something off the charts – maybe the toughest thing there is to do in life – they admitted that they were screwing up and they asked for help. Every one of you out there could use employees who stand up and are accountable. You’ve got to hire every single one of them.”
All of the graduates had on-the-spot interviews today. Many have already scheduled follow-up interviews for next week.

“We’re bringing these people back to the workforce, but it’s bigger than that. We’re giving a new lease on life for people who maybe some days weren’t sure if they were going to make it,” Gov. Justice said. “This program is truly changing lives. I congratulate today’s graduates on all their hard work.”

In addition to Jobs & Hope program leaders and participants, officials with the West Virginia National Guard – including WVNG Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Bill Crane – were in attendance for the event. Two of today’s graduates are also part of the Guard’s West Virginia ChalleNGe Academy’s Jobs Challenge program.
Including today’s graduates, Jobs & Hope has trained 80 individuals in Heavy Equipment Operations, with more than half of these individuals receiving immediate career employment, and with others adding marketable skills to their résumé.

Launched by Gov. Justice in Oct. 2019, Jobs & Hope West Virginia offers support through a statewide collaboration of agencies that provide West Virginians in need the opportunity to obtain career training and to ultimately secure meaningful employment. 

To date, a total of 1,540 West Virginians have achieved career employment by utilizing the tools and services provided through Jobs & Hope.

“All of these lives that are being changed; it all came from an idea that Governor Justice had to provide support and guidance to help West Virginians get back to work,” said Lorrie Smith, Lead Coordinator, Jobs & Hope West Virginia. “His love for our people is obvious in everything that he does.”
These individuals are now contributing to their communities as tax-paying citizens. The program has helped transition 179 households off SNAP benefits, resulting in savings of nearly $1 million federal dollars. The program has also completed 18 expungements for minor offenses.

An additional 1,600 people are currently enrolled in Jobs & Hope as active participants.

Assistance through the Jobs & Hope program is not only for those battling addiction. Any person seeking a pathway to more meaningful employment through job training, obtaining certifications, or other types of education may be eligible.

The courses are free to participants, with food and housing available where necessary. Participants work alongside dedicated transition agents to determine the options and services that would be of most use to them.

Learn more at JobsandHope.wv.gov.