Launching an American Dream with an Apprenticeship

Marisol Santos

Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Marisol Santos crossed the sea in pursuit of her American dream. Today, a Department of Labor grant helped her develop into a welder forging seafaring ships. 

As a mother of young children and more than 1,600 miles from her family network, Santos struggled to afford child care in order to make a good living. She had never imagined wearing a welder’s protective helmet, but she gave it a shot after seeing a social- media ad mentioning support for training and child care under the Moore Community House Women in Construction program.

The Women in Construction program creates a pathway for women to enter into nontraditional occupations and apprenticeships in the skilled craft trades and advanced manufacturing. Participants begin with general training covering basic trade skills and then specialize based on available jobs and personal interests.

Santos completed a pre-apprenticeship in general industry, then continued her education in a partnered community college to learn shipbuilding skills. The grant support made all the difference, with a contingency letter for a job upon completion of class. She also received child care support for a full year, a transportation stipend, welding gear, boots, tools and protective gear.

Santos strongly believes this grant has bettered her life. She’s been featured in training for new groups and serves as an informal translator, helping others who struggle with limited English proficiency. Today, she proudly dons her welder’s helmet and helps produce the ships carrying materials around the globe.

Learn more about the Women in Apprenticeship & Non-Traditional Occupations (WANTO) Technical Assistance Grant Program

Publish Date: 03/10/2022

ApprenticeshipWomen in ConstructionWomen's Bureau (WB)

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