Grants available to train for new career

Employment specialists like Guido DeLuca, director of job development and a career counselor at Chesapeake College, and Joanne Gannon, program director of the Upper Shore Workforce Scholarship Office, work to connect job seekers and employers through training and scholarship programs.

WYE MILLS — Like much of the country, the Eastern Shore suffered negative economic impact from the COVID-19 pandemic this year. Job loss, reduction in work hours and shuttered businesses have left workers searching for new opportunities.

That’s where the scholarship partner in Workforce Investment Act assistance is helping displaced workers find hope for economic recovery and a bright future. The Upper Shore Workforce Investment Board is located on Chesapeake’s Wye Mills campus, and has a strong partnership with the college to prepare dislocated workers for their next career steps.

The USWIB has been assisting workers displaced by COVID-19 economic fall-out since state restrictions went into effect in March. Chesapeake will host an online information session about career training and funding options from 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. on Jan. 28.

A federal Employment Recovery Dislocated Workers Grant of $496,000 was awarded to the USWIB in the spring to assist displaced workers. Since March, the USWIB has worked to secure more than $1.6 million designated specifically to help displaced workers in our region seek career training opportunities at Chesapeake.

Joanne Gannon, the facilitator who works directly with clients who seek assistance, said that with the destabilizing effects of the pandemic, it is an especially difficult time to manage loss of employment. In this global crisis, she said, entire industries suffer causing ripples down to the local level.

As a result, many displaced workers decide to change careers and need guidance.

“We can help eligible clients identify fields that would match their skills and talents. We can determine if there are any skill gaps and then map out a plan for a new career,” Gannon said.

Assistance can include federal and state funds for workforce training, certifications, and job skill attainment. WIOA also partners with Chesapeake College to access institutional scholarships dedicated to workforce training.

Applicants must meet certain eligibility requirements to receive training grants, but many have been relaxed in the pandemic. As of late November, 168 people applied for and were approved for assistance, with 67 already enrolled in training classes.

Scholarship recipients are enrolled in a variety of programs including Certified Nursing Assistant, truck driving, early childhood, welding, dental assistant, phlebotomy, surgical technology and radiographic technology. Most of Chesapeake’s classes have been running online since March, but some skilled trades and health care labs are offered face-to-face.

The programs eligible for WIOA funding are aligned with regional employer needs, so students who complete these programs (many in less than one year) are preparing for existing job opportunities in the region. With courses offered in a variety of formats, and many taking place on nights and weekends, these programs are convenient for working adults, as well as currently displaced workers.

For more information about training assistance and the application process, email uswib2020@gmail.com or Joanne Gannon at jgannon@chesapeake.edu.

For information about the training information session, contact Marci Leach at mleach@chesapeake.edu.

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