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Summit Seeks to Create Skilled Trade Job Opportunities - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Summit Seeks to Create Skilled Trade Job Opportunities

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Finding a job in today's economy isn't easy, especially for people already struggling to make ends meet. Business and community leaders in Charlottesville say that's why we need to focus on creating more skilled trades jobs for people to fill.

The city's office of economic development kicked off the first in a series of sessions dedicated to looking at how it can boost different sectors of the economy. Tuesday, an economic opportunities summit targeted skilled trades, which include construction, technical and industrial jobs.

Thirty-year-old Eva Johnson was working for the U.S. Postal Service in Charlottesville to support her two daughters. But when the office moved to Richmond, she could not afford to commute.

“Now that I'm no longer there, it's really hard to raise kids on the wages that I'm making,” she said.

Johnson spoke about her struggle at the summit, held in the Carver Recreation Center. She joined dozens of Charlottesville leaders to discuss the benefit these types of jobs, like mechanic and construction work, will bring to the community.

“These are jobs that historically have been the best avenues out of poverty in our country, in our community, but we've been hemorrhaging these jobs in this region,” said Charlottesville City Councilor Dave Norris.

Norris says central Virginia is losing skilled trade jobs by the thousands - and that needs to change.

“It's vital. Otherwise, we're never really going to make sustained and substantial progress in helping low-income families to join the middle class through their hard work,” he said.

Panelists and speakers emphasized the importance of collaboration for success. It's an effort Johnson believes can make a difference.

“It might even open a way for someone who doesn't have the resources to find a way. These people might open their eyes and creating an avenue for the less fortunate,” she said.

Johnson is currently working several part-time jobs and finishing up a degree in diagnostic medical sonography at Piedmont Virginia Community College. The city is in the process of planning another summit.

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