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Interviews start for job training program

By Staff | Feb 5, 2015

It has become one of the best ways for low-paid workers in Lee County to get out of poverty and into a real career with real wages.

And it costs nothing to attend.

Area residents currently working at low-skill, low-paying jobs who have not had an opportunity for higher education or previous job training have the opportunity for cost-free job training in medical front-office skills to increase their pay and self-esteem, while getting out of the rut of public assistance.

From now until April 17, telephone interviews are being accepted for the seven-month, award-winning program that starts April 21 and runs through November.

Barbara Goins of Lee County Human Services said this program is a wonderful opportunity for those who want to work to have a career working at the front desk of a doctor’s office or in medical records.

“We’re not here to help people who haven’t worked in 15 years. It’s a government grant the help the working poor,” Goins said. “These people can’t seem to get a better job because they don’t have the skills. This is a quick way to raise someone’s income from $8 an hour to $12 or $13.”

The class is filled on a first-come, first-served basis. All applicants must be working, must provide proof of earned income or unemployment compensation, proof of high school diploma or GED, and proof of Lee County residency; they must also pass a criminal background check and basic assessment in reading, language and spelling.

The training is available through the Lee Education and Employment Program and is funded by a federal Community Services Block Grant administered by Lee County Human Services.

Goins said Lee County is one of the few in the state who use the federal grants for job training.

The medical office skills (certificate) program provides instruction in keyboarding and computer applications, medical terminology, medical office procedures, HIPAA, and basic billing and coding.

Students also receive assistance with resumes, interview skills and job searching, as well as one year of intensive case management.

Goins said for many students, the slightest issue can throw their finances into a loop. This program is a way for those people to not only get a hand up, but be a game-changer in people’s lives.

“It’s ground-breaking. They get more confidence. It costs a lot of money to go to school,” Goins said. “We don’t just throw them to the wolves. We help them with all the things that give them the confidence they can deal with other issues.”

The program won a 2001 National Association of Counties Achievement Award for employment and training and was the only county program in the United States to win a 2002 Public Service Excellence Award.

Successful applicants must have reliable transportation to the classes, which are held 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday at Fort Myers Institute of Technology, 3800 Michigan Ave., Fort Myers. The program covers all costs for tuition, books and can cover childcare costs during class hours.

Contact Goins at 533-7902 for a telephone screening to determine eligibility.