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Linn State program targets health, manufacturing jobs

Bo West (instructor), William Adair, Brenda Adair, Chris Hibdon, and Terry Burnett take part in the introduction to maintenance course.

Bo West (instructor), William Adair, Brenda Adair, Chris Hibdon, and Terry Burnett take part in the introduction to maintenance course.

Robert Brandt has been unemployed for more than six months. The 59-year-old Hartsburg man has a degree in electronics from Linn State Technical College and has worked in the field in various capacities for more than 30 years.

“I’ve done computer programming, computer maintenance, and all kinds of stuff with computers and electronics and mechanical,” Brandt said. “My resume covers so many things. Any company I think would want to check me out, but (don’t) because of my age.”

Brandt is doing all he can to make himself more marketable to employers. He recently began taking MoHealthWINS training courses at Linn State Technical College.

The MoHealthWINS courses, as well as MoManufacturingWINS courses, are federally funded by three-year U.S. Department of Labor Trade Act grants administered to 12 Missouri community colleges and Linn State Technical College through the Missouri Community College Association. The association received the MoHealthWINS grant in October 2011 and the MoManufacturingWINS grant in October 2012. Once dispersed to community colleges, the grants allow select participants to earn certifications for various health and manufacturing fields.

Linn State launched MoHealthWINS in January 2013 and MoManufacturingWINS in May 2013. While veterans are given seniority to enroll in the courses, there are four other targeted populations eligible for the grant, including Trade Adjustment Assistance participants, the unemployed, the underemployed and low-skilled adults.

“This gives them a chance that they may not have had before,” said Monica Wolfe, retention specialist at Linn State.

Because the programs are funded by a federal grant, they’re free for participants. Nancy Wiley, program manager of Linn State’s MoHealthWINS, said the only expense not covered is transportation costs to and from classes.

“It is a free opportunity to be trained or re-trained to go back to work or expand your career path,” Wiley said. “Books, lab fees and tests are a part of this completely free program.”

The MoHealthWINS program includes four eight-week computer classes — digital literacy, office clerk and customer service, computer support technician and systems administration. The program also includes an introduction to maintenance class that focuses on the custodial field of health care, and a high-level online biomed equipment technician course. The biomed course requires an electronics prerequisite.

The MoManufacturingWINS program includes four areas of certification — measurement, materials and safety; job planning, bench work and layout; CNC turning operator; and CNC milling operator.

Linn State works directly with employer partners, such as Capital Region Medical Center, Go Partners Health Care Solutions and ABB. Courses are based on what skills the employers are looking for in new hires.

“We sit with them one on one and talk about their training needs,” Wiley said.

Wiley said participants can take as many courses or as few of them as they desire.

“Life happens, so there are multiple entry and exit points for each class,” Wiley said.

Melva Fast and Janet Kremer are contextualized academics instructors within the MoHealthWINS and MoManufacturingWINS programs at Linn State, meaning they teach math and reading within the courses. Both instructors also work together on what are called soft skills, which include team work, interviewing, resume writing and cooperation in the workplace. These skills are taught in a small-group environment.

Fast said most individuals are appreciative to have the opportunity to improve themselves.

“We tailor our approach to the students’ needs,” she said.

To be considered for the MoHealthWINS and MoManufacturingWINS courses at Linn State, one must fill out a grant application and be accepted into the programs. More than 100 adult participants have benefited from Linn State’s programs since the college launched them earlier this year.

Brandt said he’s not yet sure what he will gain from the MoHealthWINS program.

“I assume if I was younger, it might help me more,” he said. ‘It’s a review or update of things I know. The class I really want is at the end of the course.”

For more information about MoHealthWINS and MoManufacturingWINS, visit www.linnstate.edu/business or call 897-5321.

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