Agencies offer a variety of free job-training programs

Health-care and service industries offer employment opportunities and the potential to move up the career ladder, according to representatives from local training programs.

The Rochester Educational Opportunity Center (REOC) and Action for a Better Community (ABC) are among the local agencies offering Rochester-area residents free training programs in a variety of jobs.

ABC is in the second year of a five-year Health Professional Opportunity Grant (HPOG) program, which provides education and training to recipients of the state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program and other low-income individuals. The training is for jobs in the health-care field that pay a good wage, are in high demand or are expected to experience labor shortages, according to information at abcinfo.org.

The $1.6-million grant, which is from the federal Office of Family Assistance, provides training in four specific health-related areas: nursing, clinical care, information technology and administration.

ABC is one of 36 sites for the program across the country, said Don Hardaway, department director for the local ROC-HPOG program, which provides hands-on training or prepares participants for training by offering English as a second language or other academic classes.

"There’s certainly a need for it," Hardaway said of this type of job training program. "The health-care industry is a lucrative industry, a highly skilled industry. People receive valuable skills, transferable skills. … ABC’s mission is helping people become self-sufficient. And offering job training means for people to become self-sufficient."

So far, more than 150 participants have enrolled in the HPOG program in the Rochester area, he added, and are either employed or completing training. ABC has a network of community partners helping provide training as well as connecting participants to jobs or further education once they complete the training, Hardaway said. Those partners include University of Rochester’s Center for Community Health, Monroe Community College, Rochester Institute of Technology, Ibero-American Action League and Rochester Refugee Resettlement Center.

The ABC program also is a partner of the Rochester Employment Opportunity Center, which itself places 75 percent of its participants in jobs related to the training programs that REOC offers. The center’s programs are open to residents ages 17 and older in Rochester and the surrounding area who do not have the financial or academic means for a traditional college track, explained Patricia Beaudrie, the center’s community relations coordinator. High-school equivalency classes, language courses and other supportive services also are part of REOC’s offerings, she said.

Its core mission is to provide hands-on job training, Beaudrie noted. And many of REOC’s training programs are in the health-care field, including home health aides, certified nursing assistants, licensed practical nurses and sterile processing technicians.

"There’s a huge demand for that," she said of the sterile processing technicians who may find work in a surgical center or dental office. "Health and service will always see a steady climb. There’s always going to be something there. And the reason is we have an aging population who needs to be taken care of and will need to be taken care of longer."

Even though REOC’s training programs are available every six weeks throughout the year, many programs have waiting lists, especially the certified nursing assistant (CNA) program, Beaudrie said. To help address waits for programs that are in high demand, the center schedules its courses in three-month increments to add more class sections if needed, she said.

"We are really in tune with not only what’s going on in the occupational demand part but in the training area as well," Beaudrie said. "We don’t want to train just for training’s sake. We’re putting qualified people in place, able to better their lives in professions that they can progress in, not just end."

For example, someone who completes the LPN program may consult with the center’s college connections coordinator to go on to study for a registered nursing degree, Beaudrie said. Or a home health aide may continue on to become a CNA, she said.

REOC is one of 10 centers across the state, each of which is connected to a SUNY college, Beaudrie explained. Locally, REOC is tied to SUNY Brockport. Program offerings are based on intensive research in coordination with officials from the state labor department and must first receive approval from SUNY administration in Albany, she explained.

In addition to its health-care training opportunities, the center’s service industry training programs cover a variety of professions, from cosmetology and barbering to culinary arts and hospitality, she said. The training sessions conclude with a certificate, and most lead to jobs or further education, Beaudrie noted. Training sessions run from one day for a security guard certificate to one year for a barber who then must go on to a yearlong apprenticeship, she said.

All of its programs include information about time management and financial literacy, Beaudrie noted.

"We’re working (toward) not just in success in program but overall success in life," she said.

EDITOR’S NOTE: For more information about Action for a Better Community’s ROC-HPOG program, visit www.abcinfo.org/hpog. For information about the Rochester Employment Opportunity Center’s programs, visit reoc.brockport.edu.

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