Nonprofit giving the formerly incarcerated skills for the tech world
LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) -For many looking for a second chance in the workforce, it can be daunting.
Lincoln nonprofit Jason’s Heart offers paid apprenticeships in IT and media for those with criminal records, among others.
It’s a way for people to learn vital skills and the model is set up for them to eventually get full-time jobs in the tech industry.
Lesa Bulin is one of the first apprentices enrolled in the program. She’s candid about her past - sharing she had spent time behind bars but said she’s turned her life around. She graduated from Southeast Community College this year but the job market, Bulin said, has been tough to tap into.
In total, she’s been turned down for about 70 jobs.
“I was convicted of a felony drug conviction,” Bulin said. “And so in spite of crushing college, I was unable to even get any employer to talk to me.”
Bulin saw a 10/11 Now report earlier this year about Jason’s Heart offering apprenticeships and enrolled shortly after. Bulin and Micha Ketcham, the program’s other participant, are four months into their year-long apprenticeship.
Both have criminal records but also a passion for the work.
“From a young age I was always trying to figure out how to make up some reason that I needed to get on the computer,” Ketcham said.
In addition to learning skills mentors take Ketcham and Bulin out into the field to work with clients. Hopefully preparing them for a career after graduation.
“They’re entering the workforce, they’re generating taxes,” said Matt Fuller, with the nonprofit. “You know they’re doing all of these and that’s what we need and with a huge workforce shortage.”
For Bulin, it’s given her a chance to come full circle.
“I did go through drug treatment,” Bulin said. “And so I get to go back and see those people who helped me get where I’m at. Who saw me at my lowest are now watching me soar at my highest.”
In addition to ex-offenders, the program is also for veterans and people who make a low to moderate income.
Starting this upcoming Saturday you can apply for their winter apprenticeship and next month they’re going to be having an open house on November 18th, to celebrate the 85th anniversary of the Apprenticeship Act.
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