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Work programs help

Claiming to be untrained is not an unemployment excuse anymore. Not with free programs such as Ready to Work and Selma CareerLink in place.

Wallace Community College has partnered with Selma Career Link to provide certification for vocational jobs and skills needed to successfully function in a full-time position.

“Because it’s so competitive now, many persons are finding they need more credentials,” said Shandra Smith, director for workforce development. “This class could be a good start for them. It’s a good program that puts people in a better position then when they came to us.”

Students can be certified as an Alabama Certified Worker, Career Readiness Credential or Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development Production Level-Advanced Manufacturing-M3.

Classes offer sessions on basic computer skills, interviewing, resume and cover letter writing skills, time management, introduction to plant safety, problem solving and decision making, conflict resolution, introduction to quality control and principles of manufacturing, starting a small business in Alabama, basic blueprint reading, communication/team building and work ethics.

“We’re getting people who have had an employment history but they (are) now unemployed,” Smith said. “Now they realized they need to be retrained to re-enter the workforce.”

Some people have realized they are not as fluent with technology and basic computer programs, she said.

People who are interested in the program need to meet some minimum requirements. Participants must have a high school diploma or have, or be in the process of completing, a GED.

“It’s not out of the range to do both classes simultaneously,” Smith said. “Only if they’re fully committed and highly motivated.”

Students are offered training and must pass the comprehensive state exam with a 70 to receive credit as an Alabama Certified Worker. Attendance and attitude standards will also be considered.

Upon completion of the course, students can choose to be referred to Selma CareerLink to become students at Wallace.

“The program prepares them to be successful students at the college level,” Smith said. “It makes people strong enough to handle college work.”

Depending on the path they select, such as nursing, welding or industrial maintenance, they can be funded by the Workforce Investment Act, WIA, through Selma CareerLink.

“This office pays for individual tuition up to $8,000 for their training,” said Clifford Hunter, team manager.

In return, the state requires students to find a job. “That’s all they owe us,” Hunter said.

Each student is assigned a facilitator and is required to attend monthly case management meetings with their facilitator throughout the training. “By the time they are in their last semester of school, we work with them and their resume,” Hunter said.

Congress passed the Workforce Investment Act, WIA, in 1988 to focus on training and career development of workforce employees, according to the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs.

The Selma CareerLink center is one of 30 one-stop career centers in the state. These centers offer employment assistance, adult education and job training. “We’re in the business of helping people help themselves,” Hunter said.

Selma CareerLink also offers GED programs through Wallace.

This program is supported in part by the Governor’s office for Workforce Development and the U.S. Department of Labor — Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development’s West Alabama East Mississippi Grant. Wallace receives funding from this program that is put to the Ready to Work program.

Classes will be held from Jan. 5 to Feb. 9, 2010, 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday on the main campus of Wallace Community College in the Classroom building, room 14. Students will also be given a free parking pass. To register, call 334-876-9377.