There are quite a few free job training programs available specifically to women, but there are also myriad programs available regardless of gender. Some of the programs can be mere stepping stones to your dream job, while others are a direct pathway into the career you've dreamed about.
US Department of Labor
One of the first places to find free job training programs is through the US Department of Labor. There are several government sponsored OJT programs that benefit employees and employers.
The DOL's Women's Bureau has a wealth of information for women workers, especially women veterans. There are many opportunities for free training and education through reemployment services provided just for women veterans. In addition, homeless women veterans have services available to them not just for transitional housing, counseling and health resources, but also employment training opportunities.
Career One Stop
Career One Stop is an OJT program that operates under the DOL (Department of Labor). Free classes are available to both genders for basic academic and computer skills as well as preparation tutorials for job interviews.
If your job was shipped overseas, you may qualify for up to 104 weeks of paid occupational training and education. You may also qualify for an additional year of weekly benefits after your unemployment benefits are exhausted.
Using the online form, you first select the career you're interested in pursuing. Some excellent OJT programs include:
- Apprenticeship: One of the best ways to learn a job is through an apprenticeship offered by the hiring company. This OJT is often found in a technical or trade position, such as electrician, carpenter, heavy truck driver, aerospace propulsion jet engine mechanic and many other highly-skilled jobs. This type of job offers immediate work with hands-on training that can be short-term or last as long as two-years.
- Job Corps: This DOL program is available to eligible low-income individuals between the ages of 16 and 24. You can learn a career and earn your high school diploma or GED.
- Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Training: This program provides short-term training and education. These are conducted at technical and community colleges and some universities.
WOW (Wider Opportunities for Women)
WOW is based in Washington, DC and offers career development programs specifically for women. WOW has a national reach and has trained over 10,000 women during the past 40 years.
Women in Construction Program (WinC)
Mississippi sponsors the Women in Construction Program that teaches low-income women construction skills. This program was the brainchild of WOW to increase the number of women in nontraditional occupations. The other goal is to help train women so they can attain economic self-sufficiency. The program grant was award by the Women's Fund in Jackson.
Goodwill offers quite a few resources that are open to both genders. These include specialists to assess your current skills and experience and your career or job goals. The online learning center presents several learning modules for free. While you're learning new skills and undertaking a job search or a starting a new job, Goodwill also can help you:
- Create a realistic plan for your new career
- Help you to create a resume
- Learn tips on interviewing
- Provide educational requirements and training for your new job
In addition, Goodwill can help you with access to other resources such as transportation, childcare and even financial planning.
If the job you want requires a college degree, but you are not in a financial position to pay tuition, you can apply for a grant. A grant is different from a student loan. The grant, such the Pell Grant doesn't have to be repaid, whereas a student loan must be repaid. In some instances, recipients of Pell Grants may be awarded additional funds if a parent died while in military service. These grants are not strictly for women, but women are eligible.
Grants come in varying amounts for different periods. Some grants may cover all of your college expenses while others may need to be augmented with additional funding. There are grants available for learning new skills and livelihoods and grants for women who wish to start businesses through the government grants website.
According to College Scholarships.org, "Statistics show that over 40% of students attending private women's colleges receive significant financial aid packages that include grant funds directly from the college. These are not just reserved for low-income students, but many middle-income students..." The website provides grant information specific to women as well as grants open to both genders. Grants for Women.org provides a comprehensive grant guide for women.
SCORE for Entrepreneurs
Women who wish to start a business or grow an existing one can turn to SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) for a wide range of free online webinars to assist and educate various business entrepreneurs. These are open to both genders. In addition, local workshops are held across the country. Women entrepreneurs can also find a mentor through the website.
There are many rural programs open to men and women that are funded by federal, state and universities that can offer women new careers or aid exiting careers in farming or rural entrepreneurial ventures.
Rural Micro-Entrepreneur Assistance
The Rural Micro-Entrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP) was created by the 2008 Farm Bill for the USDA Rural Development Program. The goal is to provide rural men and women entrepreneurs with training and skills needed to establish new businesses and continue growing a rural micro business. In addition, loans and grants are processed through the MDO (Microenterprise Development Organizations). The microenterprises are not restricted to food or agriculture-related businesses.
The National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service ATTRA
ATTRA (Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas) is funded mostly through the United States Department of Agriculture's Rural Business-Cooperative Service. It serves eligible people involved with sustainable agriculture. This is open to both genders.
Nebraska Farming Opportunities
Those women who enjoy being outside and working with crops and animals should investigate the CFRA (Center For Rural Affairs). Various programs exist to encourage new and beginning men and women farmers to join the industry of farming. Retiring farmers are encouraged to train and allocate a tract of land for growing food. The next step is a transitioning of the farm land to the new farmer along with adequate financing that can be either traditional banking or owner financing.
Other Free On-The-Job Training Programs
- Grace Institute provides New York area women free tuition and practical job training.
- Brooklyn Workforce Innovations offers assistance to New Yorkers to establish careers with decent wages.
- Free Job Training: This website lists free job training of both federally and privately funded programs.
Many Opportunities for Women
There are many opportunities for women to receive free on-the-job training that can be short-term or ongoing. Regardless of your circumstances, you can find agencies, organizations and private organizations that are willing to assist you in getting into the workforce, advancing your current career or perhaps helping you make a career change. You may find that you need to take advantage of more than one program in order to achieve your final career goal. Whatever your career situation, you have options.