As Fayette County’s poverty rate declines, young fathers in the area are being given the opportunity to better themselves, and their families, through a grant that allows them to take free commercial drivers license training and parenting classes.

“This is a great opportunity for a young adult who is looking for a reliable and high paying career to receive a CDL and other credentials for free which normally costs several thousand dollars,” said Alec Italiano, director of Workforce and Economic Development for the Private Industry Council of Westmoreland/Fayette Inc. (PIC) . “The demand is definitely out there for CDL drivers at all different levels of experience.”

The grant’s goal is to support 19-to-24-year-old at-risk young adults in acquiring employment skills that lead to certification and employment in the local transportation industry.

In addition, men who are accepted into the CDL program will participate in PIC’s DADS MATTER program. The 20-hour program includes “an evidenced based parenting curriculum designed to encourage open communication with the participant’s partner and child as well as provide parenting techniques,” according PIC.

Italiano said funding for the CDL training was made possible through a grant for 2019-2020 by the Westmoreland-Fayette Workforce Investment Board (WIB).

The program consists of 319 hours including a customer service curriculum, transportation career pathway curriculum, seven-week CDL training with a hazardous materials endorsement and a workforce development curriculum where they can receive industry-recognized credentials such as forklift certification and OSHA 10.

The CDL classes will be offered in several location, including PIC offices in Lemont Furnace or Greensburg and at Douglas Education Centers sites in Monessen or the Joseph A. Hardy/Connellsville Airport.

Participants will also complete a 40-hour customer service and sales certification through the National Retail Federation.

“A lot of people are working together to make it work,” said Italiano. “We’re excited about it.”

Italiano said the DADS MATTER program, in its fifth year, has been successful with over 200 fathers or expectant fathers participating this year.

The grant is good for one year with between 15 and 30 slots to fill. Based on the success of the first year, the WIB could provide a grant for a second year, Italiano said.

He said the first year’s goal is to have 15 fathers or expectant fathers enrolled. They will first complete DADS MATTER training, and then move on to the CDL training.

The participants must meet eligibility criteria established by the Workforce Investment Opportunities Act. The fathers must be out of school, live in either Fayette or Westmoreland county, and be currently under-employed or unemployed.

“This will give them a solid career, and if they have these barriers, this will give them a free education,” Italiano said.

Since PIC has a connection with CareerLink, the men will also be aided in finding employment with companies looking for CDL-certified drivers.

For more information, contact the PIC Youth Program at 724-836-2600 ext. 207 or email at youthprograms@privateindustrycouncil.com

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