There are quite a few free job training programs available specifically to women, but there are also myriad programs available regardless of gender. Some programs can be mere stepping stones to good job opportunities 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 U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). There are several government sponsored job 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.
The CareerOneStop program operates under the DOL and there is a centrally located center serving every region within the United States. Free classes are available to both genders for basic academic and computer skills as well as preparation tutorials for job interviews and other employment-related services.
Job training opportunities available through CareerOneStop may include:
- Apprenticeship: One of the best ways to learn a job is through an apprenticeship offered by the hiring company. This on-the-job training is often found in a technical or trade position, such as an 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 for people who qualify based on a variety of factors, such as income, reason for job loss, and so on. Training opportunities available through this program are typically conducted at technical and community colleges and some universities.
Women in Construction Programs
There are a number of free programs available to low-income women who are interested in getting the skills necessary to work in the construction field. Opportunities vary by geographic area as funding is often tied to grant money or state allocations. A few examples of programs include:
- West Virginia Women Work Construction Pre-Apprentice: Women who live in West Virginia can apply to participate in a construction pre-apprenticeship program offered in several cities throughout the state. There is no cost to attend. The program is designed to "prepare adult women for entry level positions in the construction industry and registered apprenticeships."
- Moore Community House Women in Construction: This Mississippi Gulf Coast program also offers women an opportunity to participate in a pre-apprenticeship program for the construction field at no cost. According to the Biloxi Sun-Herald, participants receive "hands-on skills and industry-recognized credentials, along with job placement and case management assistance."
HUD Jobs Plus Initiative
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) often provides financial support for training programs designed to provide public housing residents (who tend to be women) and low-income individuals with access to job training that can help them get the skills they need to get good-paying jobs.
The Jobs Plus Initiative is one such program. Its purpose is to address "poverty among public housing residents by incentivizing and enabling employment," and provide "services designed to support work including employer linkages, job placement and counseling, educational advancement," and more.
If you may be eligible for this type of program, contact the Public Housing Agency (PHA) in your area to find out if they participate in Jobs Plus, or another program that offers job skills training.
Goodwill Industries offers quite a few job training resources that are open to both genders at no cost. These include specialists to assess your current skills and experience as well as your career or job goals. They have received grant funding and volunteer support from Google to launch the Google Digital Career Accelerator, which will "equip more than one million people with expanded and enhanced digital skills training over the course of three years." Additionally, the Goodwill Community Foundation online learning center presents several learning modules for free, including basic skills like reading and math, computer training, and career development.
While you're learning new skills and undertaking a job search or a starting a new job, Goodwill may also be able to help you:
- Create a realistic plan for your new career
- Help you create a resume
- Learn tips on interviewing
- Provide educational requirements and training for your new job
In addition, Goodwill can often help 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. An educational grant, such as a 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 local workshops and 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 in pursuing exciting 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 (Micro-enterprise Development Organizations). The micro-enterprises are not restricted to food or agriculture-related businesses.
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.
United Way Agencies
United Way is a worldwide organization that partners with charitable organizations in each community. While services vary greatly from one area to another, most regions have nonprofit groups that offer assistance focused specifically on the needs of women, including access to no cost job training.
Visit UnitedWay.org to find the agency in your local area. Once you identify the correct group for your region, you may find that the group has a list of job training resources published online. If you aren't fortunate enough to find that kind of resource, contact your local agency and ask for information on what kinds of programs may be available locally.
Other Free Job Training Programs
There are numerous other resources to find no cost job training programs. The free job training database lists free job training of both federally and privately funded programs through the United States. A few examples include:
- 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.
To look for opportunities in your area, contact local community colleges or Women's Business Center organizations to inquire about opportunities. The may offer programs in-house, or be able to refer you to other organizations that can help.
Many Opportunities for Women
There are many opportunities for women to receive free career 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.