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Cincy State leads the way training veterans for jobs

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CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -

When Spc. James Giuffre of Cincinnati returned from a nine-month tour of Afghanistan, he knew two things: He wanted to continue his education. And he needed a job.

But for young veterans, finding work is often hard. According the federal government, the unemployment rate for young vets is 10%. (The unemployment rate for the general population is 7.3%.)

Luckily, Giuffre found-out about a pilot program at Cincinnati State called Get Skills to Work. Partially sponsored by G.E. and Boeing, the four-week program trains veterans for manufacturing jobs. After completing it, Giuffre quickly got a job at CTL Aerospace, another sponsor of the program. Giuffre helps the company make aircraft engine parts.

"It's, you know, using your hands," Spc. Giuffre, who's still in the National Guard, said. "Time flies when you're doing it. And it's definitely interesting work. Something I've never done before."

The man who hired Giuffre, CTL Aerospace's Jim Golem, serves as president of the advisory board for the program. He doesn't know why more Tri-State manufacturing companies don't participate, especially considering the civilian applicants he's used to seeing.

"A lot of times, we're lucky if they show-up on time. They're not dressed for an interview, in a lot of cases," he said. "Communication skills are lacking. Generally we're looking for a good, positive attitude --- someone who wants to work. And sometimes that doesn't come across in the interview. So that's the biggest challenge employers are facing, including myself."

However, he notices that veterans like Spc. Giuffre present themselves differently.

"They want to work," said Golem. "They've got a positive attitude. They're smart. You know, they get in there, they get the job done. If they need to think on their toes and make decisions they can do that, as well."

It also helps to have two huge international companies backing the program, according to Darrell Smith, the manager of Veteran Student Affairs at Cincinnati State.

"When you hear the name G.E. and Boeing, I mean who wouldn't want to work for those companies?" said Smith. "So when veterans hear G.E., they say, ‘Man, oh great!'"

Just weeks ago, U.S. Navy veteran Sadarriel Clea graduated from the program. She'd like to get a job on the administrative side.

"Manufacturing is not what everyone thinks of it as," Clea said, adding, "You get to interact face-to-face with buyers and vendors. So manufacturing is a good job for anyone."

Now if she can just find a Tri-State company that will put her new skills to work, she'll be all set.

Get Skills to Work started at Cincinnati State but is now expanding nationwide, according to Smith and the local program's executive director, Christine Yancey. Money from G.E. and Boeing helps fund student scholarships, she said. Veterans also qualify for a number of benefits that help pay their tuition for the four-week program.

Golem is spreading the word among Tri-State company executives because their businesses can participate for free and they will learn about well-qualified prospective employees.

For information about taking part as a veteran or a business, contact Christine Yancey via e-mail or call (513) 569-4254.

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