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Community group begins Ready to Work Program

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The Community Action Planning Council of Jefferson County is looking for people who are ready to work.

The agency, 518 Davidson St., recently received $100,000 in a Community Services Block Grant to start a Ready to Work Program for low-income county residents to be competitive in the job market.

“It’s for living-wage jobs, not just service or minimum-wage jobs,” said Melinda M. Gault, executive director.

The program offers assistance, for example, if a person has a gross annual income of $13,963 or less, or $28,813 or less for a family of four.

Program participants may receive help with vocational education, adult education, employability skills training and support services.

Dawn M. Cole, deputy director, said the agency applied for grant funds to develop the program after it surveyed 664 low-income households and many respondents said a challenge in gaining or maintaining employment was a lack of education.

“The object is that once they’re educated, we want to get them into the work force,” she said. “It’s the whole package here, everything you need to be successful. For some folks, it may be getting food on the table so they can concentrate on their studies.”

CAPC is partnering with the Workplace for the vocational education component. The organizations will split the balance of out-of-pocket costs to a person after any financial aid goes through.

With a goal of having program participants in their desired job market by Sept. 30, by which time the funds must be spent, there are educational opportunities for people to become a certified nursing assistant, dental assistant or clinical medical assistant, and also advanced course work to become a licensed practical nurse or a registered nurse.

People who wish to work in heating/ventilation/air conditioning, welding, electrical and other vocational jobs also may participate in the program.

Candidates must first visit the Workplace, 1000 Coffeen St., to begin the process toward a vocational education.

Other partnerships aim to make the program successful, Mrs. Cole said. The Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency and the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce have given $5,000 toward the program. Mrs. Cole said that combined $10,000 is a part of the 25 percent local match required through the Community Services Block Grant.

People, businesses or organizations may contribute by calling Mrs. Cole at 782-4900, ext. 250.

She said the adult education component will focus on people 18 and older who need financial assistance to attend workshops relating to professional skill development, and the employability skills training is for participants who need such skills as help with job searches, resume building, interviewing and communication.

The support services component helps tie any loose ends people might have in receiving education for their job, such as help with work or uniform attire, tools, tutoring, child care, transportation, food and other household assistance.

The programs are open on a first-come, first-served basis.

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