Lenape adult learning center in Manor offers free job-readiness classes, job training
Career prospects can be grim for people trapped in a cycle of poverty – especially for young parents struggling to earn a living wage.
But a new pilot program administered through Lenape Technical School's NexTier Adult Learning Center in Manor is offering a way out of that cycle. The two-step program is aimed at giving low-income parents between the ages of 18 and 35 an opportunity to take job-readiness classes before stepping into job training. And it's all free to those who are eligible.
“It's a great opportunity for people,” said Lisa Brochetti, Lenape's adult education coordinator.
The program, named Generations Realizing Occupational Wellness – or GROW – will start at one of four Head Start sites in late September, providing participants with 30 hours of job-readiness classes. Instruction covers job applications, career strategy, computer skills, money management and balancing childcare, work and family.
Those classes will take place at the Ford City Head Start along Sixth Avenue on Sept. 23. Three other sites in areas near Cowanshannock, Apollo and in Indiana County will be determined later this year for instruction in early 2016.
Head Start is a preschool program for children ages 5 and younger living in low-income households. Head Start sites are ideal locations for the classes because participants can receive instruction while their young children are being supervised, Brochetti said.
Once participants complete the 30 hours of GROW classes, they will be eligible to enroll in one of Lenape's adult education classes for free training.
Training guide participants to jobs that are in high demand and pay a family-sustaining wage. The school offers training in health care — nursing assistants and pharmacy technicians, for example. Training is also available in several newer classes that include massage therapy, cosmetology, or to become a nail technician.
The GROW program is funded through a grant from the Pennsylvania Women Work nonprofit. The grant specifies that 85 percent of GROW participants must be within the 18 to 35 age bracket — which means the remaining 15 percent of enrollees can be made up of grandparents or guardians who need to support child dependants.
No matter what the age, all have to qualify for public assistance or meet the low-income guidelines, Brochetti said.
She said there are at least 212 families served through Head Start programs in Armstrong and at least 100 families in the Homer City area of Indiana County.
“I'm hoping out of 300 or so families, we get can get 80 to participate in GROW,” she said.
In the past, there were people living within the low-income bracket seeking training in something like a nursing program who had to be turned away because they didn't have the money to pay, Brochetti said.
“Often they want to improve themselves, but can't because they don't have the money to take a class,” she said. “This will help them overcome barriers to employment.”
Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303 or email@example.com.