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City Council Launches Job Training Program

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With the economy slumping, more and more New Yorkers are feeling the pinch. But the City Council says it has a plan to help people land good jobs with a little training. NY1's Bronx reporter Dean Meminger filed the following report.

Single mother Susana Escalante says she's in the driver's seat now -- learning how to operate a bus so she can land a good job.

"I am trying to do it because I have three children and I want to get more money," she said. "We have to work to survive; nothing is easy."

With that in mind, the City Council has earmarked $20 million to pay for job training for the unemployed and under-employed in the five boroughs. In the northeast Bronx, City Council members are pushing commercial driver's license training.

City Councilman Oliver Koppel says he discovered it would be simple to get jobs driving trucks and buses.

"Actually, industries were finding it hard to get goods to market because there were not sufficient numbers of long-distance truck drivers to fill the jobs and they were losing money, and there were trucks sitting idle because there were no drivers available," said Koppel.

"I look in the newspaper every day, the department for driving trucks overflows every day, more so than any other job," said Metric Dickson, a truck driver trainee.

The council is calling this program the Jobs to Build On initiative. All of the training programs involved are free to the public and must help clients find jobs.

The trucking company says if someone comes in and pays for their own training, it will cost $80,000 an hour for the lessons, and it usually takes about 30 hours for someone to learn how to drive a bus or truck safely.

"If you had to pay for this training, it would be astronomical," said City Councilman Larry Seabrook. "And if they don't have a job, they could not pay for any training. Here is a golden opportunity to have a job and be trained."

City Council members say along with Commercial Drivers License training, there are programs in construction, food service, and healthcare.

"Every person I see in the street, everyone I see on the train, everyone that comes into the office, they want to work," said Carl Green of the African-American Chamber of Commerce. "People want to work."

If you're interested in training, you can call the Bronx African-American Chamber of Commerce at 718-515-3570. You can also contact your local City Council person and ask about the jobs to build on initiative.

- Dean Meminger
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