Parents in search of a job with long-term potential may be interested in Vermont Tech's Strengthening Working Families Initiative, a new program that provides free training and support services to moms and dads. Funded by a three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, and a collaboration between Vermont Technical College and Community College of Vermont, the program offers four seven-week learning modules to teach job skills in manufacturing, a sector that offers starting wages in the $13-$16 range. Upon successful completion of each module — covering topics ranging from safety to quality and measurement — participants receive a credential they can show to prospective employers. Beth Demers, project manager at Vermont Tech, said the program also offers resource coordinators to help families with issues that often create barriers to working — such as childcare, finances, housing, transportation and food security. This spring, Vermont Tech is offering the program in Williston, St. Albans, Barre, Middlebury, Morrisville and Rutland. Demers said the initiative's target audience is both those who are unemployed and parents who work two part-time jobs with no benefits. "If we are able to provide training and wraparound services for these families," Demers said, we "will give them access to one livable-wage job with benefits and a career pathway."