A skills training academy that prepares veterans, first-generation immigrants and formerly incarcerated adults for middle-skills jobs, ForgeNow, recently announced the launch of a tuition financing solution that will help displaced workers access training in the high-demand fields of HVAC and electrical repair. Through a partnership with Meritize, a pioneer in financing solutions for skills-based education and training programs, students enrolled in the program will now be eligible for merit-based financing, which can in many cases reward individual borrowers for their past educational and military experiences.
 
“We’re seeing intense demand for talent in middle-skill fields like the skilled trades and allied health, due in part to an aging workforce combining with exponential growth in the traditional trades, construction and infrastructure. At the same time, there are high-potential workers who often cannot access the required training either because of a lack of funding—or financial requirements that disadvantage the same low-income workers looking to launch their careers,” says Marvin Key, co-founder and CEO of ForgeNow. “This innovative financing option will expand access to high-impact career training, giving workers a better chance at training for well-paying jobs."
 
Approved by the Texas State Workforce Commission, ForgeNow offers an 8-week intensive bootcamp that blends online and classroom instruction with hands-on practice in a training lab taught by industry veterans. Students complete the technical training needed to enter the workforce as an entry-level electrician or heating and cooling technician.
 
The introduction of the new financing option offered on the Meritize platform will provide an alternative for students who do not currently qualify for state funding through the Texas State Workforce Commission or federal funding from the Forever GI Bill or Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. Students will now be eligible to qualify for merit-based financing through Meritize. Unlike traditional lenders that rely solely on FICO scores and other financial records to determine whether to lend to an individual, Meritize considers the full breadth and depth of an individual’s academic or military achievements to enhance credit evaluation and improve loan options.
 
The new financing option will unlock career paths that offer low-income workers the opportunity to access well -paying jobs with opportunities for long-term advancement. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for talent in HVAC and electrical repair is projected to grow by 4% and by 8%, respectively. Heating and cooling technicians earn an average salary of $48,730 per year, and electricians earn an average salary of $56,180 per year.
 
“Middle-skills jobs that require less than a college degree now represent the largest segment of the U.S. labor market. ForgeNow’s model is a powerful example of how we can match untapped talent with the needs of employers and the broader economy,” says Chris Keaveney, founder and CEO of Meritize.

“This collaboration will expand access to training for career changers who are in transition or deserving a second chance. It will help meet demand for talent in fast-growing industries by creating pathways to upward mobility for segments of the population that too often go overlooked," Keaveney concludes.