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Valor Act to help veterans moves on to next step

Some Fort Bliss soldiers train in a simulated village on the Army base.

The Valor Act passed its committee markup today, El Paso Congressman Beto O'Rourke tweeted Wednesday.

If signed into law, the Valor Act would simplify the process for employers to register apprenticeship programs for veterans.

A local job-placement company said the current process discourages some companies from offering apprenticeships.

"It's not user-friendly," said Leila Melendez, the chief operating officer of Workforce Solutions Borderplex. "It's not easy for the employers to use. They kind of shy away from it. The cons outweigh the pros of it."

Melendez said apprenticeship programs are a good option for veterans who want to start or change careers.

"This really help the veteran increase their skills and they're working at the same time," she said. "Part of their day would be learning a curriculum and the other part of the day, they would be working at an employer's site on the job, applying the things they're learning."

While Workforce Solutions Borderplex already helps veterans find jobs, the Valor Act could help the employers they work with start apprenticeship programs, according to Melendez.

"If we can help employers rethink and recreate apprenticeship programs, it doesn't necessarily have to be in that formal structure or call it an apprenticeship. It's a student worker," she said. "I'm hoping that our legislative leaders really do put their stamp behind this and show their support by voting for it."

Now that the Valor Act has passed the committee markup, it'll be reported to the Senate, possibly amended and eventually voted on.

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