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Job Initiatives Help Steer Grads to Construction Union Jobs

For many New Jersey residents, these programs are a lifeline to a better future

Angel Sanchez isn’t like many graduates. It’s not just his age — he’s 38 — it’s also the path he took to get a certificate that will help him find a good job. He spent decades in prison for dealing drugs, until he signed on with the prisoner reentry program run by former Gov. Jim McGreevey.

“I just destroyed my whole life to the streets and I was really dedicated to the streets, but I finally realized, as I got older, I got more responsibilities,” said Sanchez.

Sanchez marched with almost 100 other graduates from several different jobs initiatives, including NJ Build and the National Career Institute, after completing a program that trains them to apply for positions in New Jersey’s 21 union construction trades.

“This is a program that builds skills in carpentry, skills in plumbing, skills in electrical working. They learn wiring and they learn all kinds of things that will allow them to work in the construction industry,” said George Blount, president of the National Career Institute. “Many of our graduates will take the union test and they will go on and become union members, hopefully. That’s one of the goals of the program.”

Said Hudson County Freeholder William O’Dea, “I don’t care where you’ve come from, I don’t know how long or how far down in the dumps or the gutter you were, you can lift yourself up. Whether you were incarcerated, whether you’ve had bad luck in life, whatever those obstacles were. Dedication and preparation can overcome them.”

Read the full story on NJTV News Online, a content partner of NJ Spotlight.

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