SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Skilled trade workers throughout the Mountain State can now jump start their careers even more through a new contest that could win them up to $12,000 by simply showing their pride in the work they do.
West Virginia State Treasurer Riley Moore took his skilled workers savings program known as Jumpstart to Bridge Valley Community and Technical College Tuesday for the launch of the new contest. Moore announced up to $12,000 could be deposited in a Jumpstart Savings Account to winners who explain what makes them proud to be a skilled worker in the state.
“Coming into this office, I thought, we have a college savings plan, we have a lot of programs incentivizing people to go to college, but we need to do more to help the skilled workers in West Virginia, and that’s why I started the Jumpstart Savings Program,” Moore said.
Launched last year, the Jumpstart Savings Program gives those looking to pursue a career in a skilled trade— from welding to cosmetology– the opportunity to save money and get certain state income tax benefits.
The contest announced Tuesday will select up to 20 people, based on the number of entries, to receive a total $2,000 in their savings account. Out of those selected, one individual winner will be randomly chosen to receive an additional $10,000 into that account.
The task at hand to be selected to win the funds is to write a 250 word or less essay answering the question, “What makes you proud to be a West Virginia skilled worker?”
Along with entering the contest and submitting the essay, contestants will also submit one original digital photo best representing their answer. Moore said anyone within the skilled trade industry can enter.
“By skilled trade I don’t just mean welders, carpenters, pipe fitters or electricians, of course it’s all of them, but it could be someone who went to beautician school, it could be someone who went to culinary school, any of those non-college career type paths, any of them can benefit from this,” he said.
Skills USA State Director Melissa Wilkinson spoke at Tuesday’s contest launch. She encourages every trade worker to become a part of the program and enter the contest as she feels it gives them a leg up towards their future.
Wilkinson said upon calling a former student one day to see how his business of acquiring a welding rig was going, he told her had the Jumpstart program been around when he was a student five or six years ago, he would have ultimately been able to meet his goal in obtaining the rig sooner than he had.
“He said he had to work three years as an apprentice and a welder’s helper to be able to earn enough money and to be able to earn enough credit to purchase the tools that he needed, so $75,000 is what he has invested in just his truck,” Wilkinson said.
Moore said the inspiration behind getting the program started in the state came from his own experience as a welder and going through a trade school.
He said the narrative that college is the only answer has been pushed for far too long, and currently trade workers may be needed now more than ever.
“We need people that are ready to take those jobs, I don’t think we necessarily need people getting degrees in Russian literature or whatever else people are studying in college, we need to be ready for the jobs of the future,” he said.
Moore believes there is going to be an enforced demand across the country soon to have workers trained and equipped in trade work due to the pushback for more U.S-made products.
“Equipping is what this program is going to help people do and prepare them for those jobs, as I do believe they are going to start to come back home from places like China, we’ve seen that happen with Taiwan with the chip factory already,” said Moore.
Jumpstart Savings Account funds can be used to help workers pay for tools, equipment, supplies and other business costs.
Essay contest entries must be received by the end of the day on December 31.