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Gateway using grant to prepare displaced workers for health careers

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Kayla Bunge
October 17, 2009
— Gateway Technical College plans to use a nearly $500,000 grant to equip displaced workers and adult students with the skills they need for careers in health care.

The college, which serves Walworth, Kenosha and Racine counties, received the grant this week from the federal Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education, which supports reforms, innovations and improvements in higher education that could serve as national models.


"We want to increase the retention and achievement of displaced workers and returning adult students," said Mike O'Donnell, dean of the health sciences at Gateway. "We want to offer them a chance to be retrained in health careers because there's a lot of public perception that health care is sort of insulated (from the economic downturn)."


The college plans to create more short-term technical certificate programs in the health care field and steer adult students who receive certifications to a one- or two-year program in a related health care field, he said.


For example, if a woman receives her medical receptionist certificate, instructors and advisers might encourage her to enroll in the medical assistant or health information technology program.


Gateway plans to open its program to students accepted into the nursing, physical therapy, pharmacy, dental and other health programs, O'Donnell said.


The grant will cover classroom instruction, mentoring and career counseling, he said. It also will cover case management.


"We want to find out what are the reasons students are not completing their programs," O'Donnell said. "Is it their living situation, or do they have child care issues, transportation issues?"


Case managers will regularly meet with students to discuss their progress and resolve any conflicts that might be affecting their education, he said. Case managers also will be able to connect students to on-campus and community services that could help them, he said.


The $497,938 grant to Gateway is part of $11.25 million in grants awarded this week by the U.S. Department of Education to 29 projects to benefit displaced workers and working adults pursuing degrees at community colleges. The grants focus on providing people with marketable skills and knowledge to address needs in high-growth jobs.



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