South Piedmont receives grant

Nov. 21, 2013 @ 04:44 PM

South Piedmont Community College has been awarded a grant through the NC Back-to-Work Grant program that will help area residents get the training they need to return to the workforce. 

Programs include career paths in Computer Information Technology-Operating Systems Certificate and Computer Information Technology-Microsoft Office Certificate. All program training will be short-term and lead to industry-recognized or state-regulated credentials. The plan will also provide 24-hour human resource development courses as well as assessments to earn a North Carolina Career Readiness Certificate.

The grant is available to unemployed workers in Union and Anson counties and the classes begin Jan. 8. 

"The grant will pay up to full tuition fees and certification testing expenses for people who qualify," Al Johnstone, director of apprenticeships at South Piedmont Community College, said. 

They will be focusing on the unemployed, underemployed, returning veterans and National Guard members. 

Anyone interested has to apply in person and must go through the normal college application process, including the FAFSA process. If they qualify for financial aid, that has to be utilized first, the grant will pick up the rest of the expenses. 

The grant will cover the Microsoft Office certificate and the operating systems certificate. 

"That was what was determined from employer need," Johnstone said. He added that every employer is looking for what they call proficiency in the Microsoft Office suite. 

"This gives them the opportunity to get that certification," he said. 

The grant also requires students go through the state career-readiness certification process and a minimum of one human resources development class. A resume class is required, which includes a four-day resume workshop, so students will come out with a quality resume. The classes are online, but lab-time is built into the program. Before the certification exams, they have a one-day boot camp to help students prepare for the exam. 

Johnstone hopes the grant will lead to more employed people in the two counties. 

"My goal is to get 80 students enrolled into the program and hopefully out of that, those 80, if they go all the way...that would be 240 industry-recognized certifications," Johnston said. 

He said if you add in the career-readiness certifications, it will be 320 certifications if everyone uses everything that is being offered. 

"We're looking for employability, we're looking for people to actually get jobs when they're done with this," Johnstone said.