BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Though Baltimore has one of the highest unemployment rates in Maryland, the situation has improved over the past four years.

As Mike Schuh reports, a lack of qualified candidates for some highly specialized jobs has the city taking matters into its own hands.

Robert Dorsey dropped out of school at 17 to support his newborn baby. He drifted through a dozen dead-end jobs.

But when opportunity knocked, he answered.

The turning point for him came as he was walking to a bus stop one day. He came upon a pole with a lot of flyers on it. One of them was from Baltimore City Water, offering a career mentoring program.

Now, he’s six months into a three-year training program, which was first offered in 2015.

The city realized these highly specialized water workers were retiring faster than they could be replaced.

So to get enough people who could pass the state certification, the Department of Public Works director decided it was necessary to train a new generation.

“It’s an often overlooked career,” says spokeswoman Jennifer Combs.

And fewer jobs are more secure.

“We will always have water, and we will always need water and we will always need people to help run this place,” she adds.

Robert is one of 26 trainees and has two and a half years left in his program. To be hired full time, he needs to pass the state certification test.

“I appreciate it every day,” he says. “Because I honestly really don’t know what I was going to get into until this opportunity presented itself.”

Applications for that mentorship program open on Jan. 23 and close on Feb. 10.

The Baltimore City Water Industry Career Mentoring Program is sponsored by DPW and its program partners, the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development (MOED) and the Chesapeake Water Environment Association (CWEA).

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