Quinsigamond Community College held a graduation for its TRAIN program, a pilot program held at five different community colleges across the state.
Honored speakers included QCC President Gail Carberry, State Sen. Karen E. Spilka, Secretary of Elder Affairs Alice Bonner, and David Cedrone, Associate Commissioner for Economic and Workforce Development for the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education. Kathie Manning, Dean of Workforce Development and Continuing Education at QCC, made the closing remarks.
At QCC, 28 participants completed the course, a Nurse Assistant/Home Health Aide class. The course helped prepare participants for the Red Cross test to become a Certified Nursing Assistant.
TRAIN (Training Resources and Internship Networks) is a pilot program overseen by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (MDHE), in collaboration with the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development. A Current Population Survey reported that in the state in 2014, the percentage of unemployed individuals, who were long-term unemployed, was 34.6 percent. Over time, people who are experiencing long-term unemployment have an erosion of their skills, motivation and self-esteem, leading to them often no longer seeking employment.
In response, the legislature passed the TRAIN grant program and funds were given to community colleges to implement training programs and provide employer-sponsored internships for the long-term unemployed.
Student-centered support services were provided through a Worcester Downtown Connect network, including transportation, child care, nutrition, financial literacy, comprehensive case management, individualized service plans, skills training and employment-related services.
“It was a very successful program,” said Program Coordinator Jo Sundin. “To qualify for the program, participants had to be under-employed or unemployed for at least a year. This program is trying to fill a gap and provide training and education.”
“QCC has opened a door full of opportunities that make me feel confident to pursue my goals and have a brighter future,” said participant Teresa Criollo. “Through this program, I’ve also made lifelong friends.”
Participant Hellen Nyangori, who gave one of the student testimonials at the ceremony, said the program showed her age doesn’t matter when it comes to learning. “Coming originally from Kenya, I thought I knew a lot about being a nurse, but I have come to know there is always more to learn,” she said. “Thank you for this program.”
Three classes, or cohorts, have been held at QCC. Out of those, 13 students have already gotten jobs, three have enrolled in QCC to take further classes. The most recent class of 10 has not had a chance to take the CNA test yet.
“It’s all about timing,” Ms. Sundin said. “They have to be ready to make a shift, and they want to make a difference for their lives and their families. We keep checking in with them and motivating them, but they have to be ready for change.”
The graduation ceremony was held for all three cohorts. Classes for the six-week program were started in January, March and May.