Labor Secretary Thomas Perez Highlights Apprenticeships in Cleveland

by Nick Castele

The U.S. Labor Secretary visited Cleveland yesterday to highlight local efforts to connect students with jobs through apprenticeship programs. 

Secretary Thomas Perez spoke at a panel discussion at Cuyahoga Community College. He said apprenticeships have historically helped people move into to the middle class. 

“And it can continue to be the ticket to the middle class, not only in the traditional trades, but in healthcare and cybersecurity and IT, in so many different areas,” he said. “And that’s what we’re trying to do in our investments in apprenticeships.”

Perez was in Northeast Ohio to applaud a federally supported apprenticeship program run by the Regional Transit Authority. The program sets up Tri-C and Cleveland State University students with apprenticeships in transit jobs, such as maintaining trains and buses, through the Amalgamated Transit Union.

RTA is planning to hire more than 30 electricians and mechanics next year, along with 200 bus and rail operators, according to a news release. 

“When we recruit, the most difficult position for us to fill are people who fix things,” RTA General Manager Joe Calabrese said. “Those technicians, electrical repair, diagnostics. So we really want to enhance our apprenticeship training program with Tri-C and Cleveland State so they get the basics of that, and then work with us, with experienced mechanics, to improve that skill set.”

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