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W.Va. state programs, agencies working together to create non-traditional employment pathways for women

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Employment & Training (E&T), a job placement and training program within the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources’ (DHHR) Bureau for Family Assistance, is partnering with West Virginia Women Work (WVWW) and local employers to create career pathways for women in non-traditional career paths. Companies that SNAP E&T and WVWW are working with currently include the West Virginia Rural Water Association and Buzz Meats.  

The goal of this partnership is to help women explore, train, and secure employment in non-traditional occupations, especially skilled trades. The WVWW Step Up program is a tuition-free, employment-based skilled trade training program designed to prepare women for entry-level industry positions and registered apprenticeships.

“We are thrilled to partner with WVWW to promote training and employment opportunities for our female clients,” said Janie Cole, Commissioner of DHHR’s Bureau for Family Assistance. “It is our hope that the exciting opportunities created by this partnership and our collaborations with West Virginia companies will help our clients feel the pride of making a meaningful difference for themselves and their families.”

This partnership with the West Virginia Rural Water Association will promote women’s access to its apprenticeship program and help more women find employment in the water treatment sector. The participants will attend site visits, and water education, experience the day-to-day duties of water and wastewater treatment professions. 
Buzz Meats offers stable, high paying, and consistent employment, with brand recognition throughout the greater Kanawha Valley. In 2022, of the estimated 146,000 butchers and meat processing workers in the United States, approximately 25% were women. WVWW is currently researching how best to prepare women for this occupation, and Buzz Meats has agreed to interview WVWW Step Up graduates for full-time employment following successful completion of the program. 

“Women and girls are often encouraged to explore careers in traditional roles, such as caregiving or service industry positions,” said WVWW Executive Director Carol Phillips. “By providing creative education paths that provide the skills necessary to obtain high paying careers and a support system for those early in their career, our programs can move women from unemployment or underemployment to a living wage in a short period of time. With partners like DHHR and their SNAP E&T Program, we can support women in their pursuit of these high paying careers and economic independence.”

The WVWW Step Up class cohort will begin August 2023 at the Charleston and Morgantown locations. Women can currently apply online for the Step Up for Women Construction class at and the Step Up for Women Advanced Manufacturing class at

“DHHR’s Bureau for Family Assistance is working every day to facilitate these relationships and promote these professional programs to help put SNAP clients into high demand, well-paying jobs,” added Commissioner Cole. ###
The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) provides a wide range of necessary and life-saving services to many West Virginia residents. DHHR is comprised of the Bureau for Behavioral Health; Bureau for Child Support Enforcement; Bureau for Family Assistance; Bureau for Medical Services; Bureau for Public Health; Bureau for Social Services; Office of Inspector General; and West Virginia Children’s Health Insurance Program (WV CHIP). For more information, visit or call the DHHR at 304-558-0684.
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