Want to start your own small business? Organizations offer free help to get you started

small business

Construction will be one of the fastest growing fields for self-employed workers in the years ahead.

Since this week, May 5-11, is National Small Business Week, it might be a time to think about the possibility of starting a business of your own.

And you won’t be alone. More than half of the people in this country either own or work for a small business. Those with an entrepreneurial spirit and a criminal record may find it easier to create their own employment rather than work for someone else.

It could be anything from painting houses or starting a food truck to dog walking or taking care of elderly people, but there are certain fields that are expected to grow faster than others. And they offer the types of jobs that are often done by those who are self-employed.

According to numbers published by the U.S. Dept. of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics last year, there were about 9.6 million self-employed workers in 2016, and that number is expected to increase to 10.3 million by 2026.

Fastest growing job categories for the self-employed

Among the fastest growing categories for self-employed people between 2016 and 2026 are:

  • Personal care and service: 135,000 new jobs for self-employed workers
  • Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance: 83,000 new jobs for self-employed workers
  • Construction and extraction: 78,300 new jobs for self-employed workers
  • Transportation and material moving: 60,200 new jobs for self-employed workers

While that may give you an idea where some of the opportunities will be, you may have some thoughts of your own. Maybe you have a special skill or interest – like handyman repairs, fixing cars, cooking, housekeeping or helping people with mobility issues – that you can convert to employment.

Learning how to start a business

Whatever your interest or skill, you’ll still need to decide if having a business is the right path for you. And if it is, there are a few things to learn about creating your own employment.

Fortunately, there’s free help available.

One of the best resources around is your local Small Business Development Center. There are more than 1,000 of these across the U.S., and you can search for the one nearest you in the organization’s online database. The centers are sponsored by state economic development agencies, colleges and universities and private partners and are funded in part through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and offer free consulting and at-cost training.

If you’re a woman, you may want to look into the SBA Women’s Business Centers, a national network of more than 100 centers nationwide that cater to women entrepreneurs. The SBA added six more of these centers last year and maintains an online directory that is searchable by Zip Code.

Online education

Not sure whether your own business is the way to go? You can get a better idea of whether entrepreneurship is right for you by checking out the My Own Business Institute at Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, California. The institute offers free online education for entrepreneurs with two courses in both English and Spanish: Starting a Business and Business Expansion.

Starting a Business is the course that is relevant for those thinking about doing just that. The course is divided into 15 sessions and covers such things as

  • Deciding whether a business is for you
  • Creating a business plan
  • Home based businesses
  • How much money is needed and how manage financing
  • Dealing with licenses and permits

You may take the course at your own pace and after completion get certified for free.

The SBA also offers online education through its Small Business Learning Center.

Decided that your own business is for you?

After doing the research, you’ve decided that you’d like to be your own boss, the SBA supplies a free online tool to help put a business plan together.

With that in hand, you’ll be ready to meet with a volunteer mentor or counselor who can provide advice on the next steps to take. You can find one of these people through your local Small Business Development Center, Women’s Business Center or SCORE, a nonprofit organization that pairs people who want to start businesses with one of its 10,000 volunteer mentors who have experience to share.

U.S. Dept. of Labor’s Women’s Bureau offers web portal for women seeking higher paying work

Women's BureauThe Women’s Bureau of the U.S. Dept. of Labor has created a very useful website portal, Women Build, Protect & Move America, geared toward women who wish to find higher paying careers in construction, transportation and protective services.

The site includes occupation info from the Occupational Outlook Handbook for those specific industry sectors. Each entry covers:

  • The sorts of things people do to perform that specific job.
  • What it takes to become a worker in that field.
  • Pay scales.
  • Employment numbers and wages per state.
  • Job outlook (growth in number of jobs in the future).

A section on training, scholarships and recruitment incorporates a variety of programs by various agencies and organizations around the country.

Programs to help women enter nontraditional fields 

Building Pathways The Action for Boston Community Development’s six-week program that prepares candidates for a career in construction.

Transportation Alliance for New Solutions (TrANS) A training model sponsored by the Wisconsin Dept. of Transportation I-94 North South Corridor Project to address the shortage of women and minorities in highway construction.

Rosie’s Girls A one-week summer day camp operated by Vermont Works for Women for middle-school girls to teach them carpentry and engineering skills.

Lady Truck Drivers A website dedicated to women who drive trucks or would like to and includes a directory of trucking companies that are interested in hiring women truckers and women in trucking related jobs.

Women in Transportation A program of Los Angeles Trade-Tech Community College that prepares women for employment in the automotive, heavy equipment and collision industries. Participants must be a member of one of three categories to participate, including being a previous offender (on probation or parole) – the other two are being unemployed or failure to graduate from high school or attain a GED.

Apprenticeship info is among other resources the website offers

Other resources at Women Build, Protect & Move America include a guide to nationwide and local apprenticeship programs offered by agencies, unions and nonprofit organizations. Among these are Chicago Women in Trades, Independent Electrical Contractors Fort Worth, Puget Sound Electrical Apprenticeship, University of Iron, and Mass Building Trades.

The site also has a section for employers who are looking to fill jobs by recruiting women from outside their industries.

Anyone interested in employment in nontraditional work or companies that would like to hire them should tap into the resources on the Women Build, Protect & Move America website. And always remember to check your local American Job Center to find out if there might be other programs in your area.

For more information on opportunities for women, check out:

Together We Bake

East Bay Community Birth Support Project

Nontraditional Employment for Women

 

Career OneStop video library offers insight into jobs and industries to help you decide a career path

Careeronestop video libraryRecently released from jail or prison and not sure what kind of work to look for?

You’re not alone.

Many people who have been out of the work force for a while – or who have never really been in it – may have a difficult time trying to figure out the job that might be suitable for them.

There’s an excellent resource to help you in your efforts. CareerOneStop, a free career counseling service sponsored by the U.S. Dept. of Labor, offers the CareerOneStop video library, a collection of hundreds of videos where you can learn about careers and industries and the skills and abilities they require.

Videos divided into clusters based on type of work

The videos are divided into 16 clusters that include similar types of work — from agricultural and natural resources to architecture and construction, hospitality and tourism to transportation and logistics. Each cluster has an overview video and then videos for particular types of jobs.

Each video is just a minute or two and gives an overview of a type of career, what’s required in terms of ability, how to train for it and what workers do on a day-to-day basis. All of the videos also have transcripts.

A few examples from the CareerOneStop video libary
  • Take for an example a wind turbine technician or wind tech. The video explains that people with this job install, repair and monitor wind turbines. They also do maintenance. Most people in this field earn a certificate at a technical institute or community college.
  • How about the possibility of a flooring installer? This is someone who lays and finishes carpeting and tile, linoleum and wood flooring, although a person would normally specialize in only one of these. Most people learn on the job but there are some formal apprenticeships available. This is an excellent choice for someone who wants to have their own business.
  • Or you might be interested in getting into the hospitality industry. A good start is to work as a hotel or resort front desk clerk. This job requires excellent people skills, since clerks are the first person that guests usually deal with. It’s a good learning experience and could lead to a hotel management position.
  • Another possibility, among many others, is a home health care aide or someone who provides in-home health care services to the elderly, or those who are sick or disabled. They may administer medications or help clients get dressed or bathed. They may also prepare meals or do light housekeeping. This job usually requires a high school diploma and some sort of formal training and certificate.
Information on pay and job opportunities also included

Some of the pages where the videos are displayed also include average pay, a job outlook rating – or how many job opportunities should be available in the future – and a link to a searchable database of training programs across the U.S. And there’s an entirely separate section of videos in Spanish.

So if you’re unsure what direction to take work wise, spend a few hours exploring the website and its clusters of videos, and watch as many as you can. Afterwards you’ll have a better idea of the kind of work you may be qualified for and interested in doing. Then you’ll be able to use the site to find a training program near you, if one is required. With a bit of initiative and perseverance you may soon be training for or finding a job that will help you with your new life.

ApprenticeshipUSA grants to increase apprenticeship programs

ApprenticeshipUSAThose interested in apprenticeships may now have more opportunities than ever before, thanks to efforts by the U.S. Department of Labor to expand apprenticeship programs across the United States.

On October 21, the White House announced that the DOL has awarded more than $50 million in ApprenticeshipUSA State Expansion Grants. The applicants for these grants included state economic development and workforce agencies and technical college systems, among others.

The grants, ranging in amount from $700,000 to $2.7 million, are designed to:

  • Help states incorporate apprenticeships into their education and workforce systems.
  • Involve industry and other partners in expanding apprenticeships to new sectors and underserved worker populations.
  • Encourage and work with employers to create new programs.
  • Promote more diversity and inclusion in apprenticeship programs.

ApprenticeshipUSA State Expansion Grant recipients

Thirty-six agencies in states from Hawaii to New Hampshire received ApprenticeshipUSA State Expansion Grants to cover programs created with a variety of partners, plans and goals. Here are a few examples of the recipients and their plans for how they will use the grant money:

Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Juneau, Alaska

The department is using its $1,019,985 grant to fund the Healthy Alaska Through Apprenticeship project. This project will create healthcare apprenticeship opportunities that include jobs such as community healthcare worker and medical administrative assistant.

California Department of Industrial Relations, Oakland, California

The department was awarded an $1.8 million grant that will fund its Investing in California’s Future project. The goal is to double the number of registered apprenticeships during the next decade and encourage high-growth, non traditional industries – advanced manufacturing, transportation, information technology and healthcare – to develop apprenticeships.

Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, Tallahassee, Florida

The Florida ApprenticeshipUSA project, funded with a $1,498,269 grant, will create 2,500 new apprentices over 3-1/2 years. The public-private partnership will address the state’s critical demand for skilled and diverse workers in health services, construction, IT and manufacturing.

Iowa Workforce Development, Des Moines, Iowa

Using its $1.8 million grant, the Iowa Workforce Development agency has launched the Innovative Opportunities with Apprenticeships (IOWA) project. It plans to target underserved populations – ex-offenders, individuals with disabilities, minorities, women and out-of-school youth – who will be able to receive training in such nontraditional sectors as cyber security, IT, health care and business services.

Illinois Department of Commerce and Opportunity, Chicago, Illinois

With a $1.3 million grant to fund its Illinois Apprenticeship Plus System, the department plans to increase opportunities for women, people of color and individuals transitioning from incarceration, among others, in the transportation, manufacturing, healthcare and distribution, and logistics industries.

Indiana Department of Workforce Development, Indianapolis, Indiana

The department will work with partners that include the Indiana Department of Corrections, Ivy Tech Community College and representatives of industry to expand registered apprenticeships statewide with its $1.3 million grant.

Louisiana Workforce Commission, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

The commission’s Expanding Opportunities Today to Meet Tomorrows Needs project received a $1.55 million grant. It will use the money to double the number of registered apprentices in the state, as well as develop pre-apprenticeship training programs.

Thousands of new apprenticeships on the horizon

With these and many other projects in the works, there will be thousands of new apprenticeships coming up in the next few years.

As a result, those looking for a stable, well paid career with paid training and who qualify should have an increasing number of opportunities. These opportunities will not only come in traditional industries like construction and transportation, but in work sectors, including IT and high-tech manufacturing, that haven’t employed many apprentices in the past.