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Program: free training for medical industry

July 21, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A local effort is under way to give a helping hand to some unemployed workers. The new program is helping prepare them for careers in the medical field with long-term jobs and stable wages.It was a big day for about a hundred graduates at Los Angeles Valley College. They got certificates for completing the first phase of an ambitious program giving low-income and unemployed adults like Ramon Gonzalez free classes and paid internships for future jobs as medical assistants, pharmacy technicians, and certified nursing assistants.

"I'm a graduate going for pharmacy technician," said Gonzales. "This program is paid by the government, which is great, because if you're unemployed, you're not going to have money for school."

The goal of the program is to move 1,200 graduates into stable jobs in the medical field. It is a $7 million program funded by federal stimulus dollars and state and local grants.

"And it's free, it's no catches and it's an awesome opportunity" said Dominique Rodley, a graduate of the program.

L.A. Valley College partnered with the Youth Policy Institute to make the program happen.

"When the Youth Policy Institute came to us with this idea about creating healthcare bridge academies for individuals to get into a new profession, we said absolutely, we are ready to do that," said Susan Carleo, president of L.A. Valley College.

"We'll have 1,200 clients go through the program, all of which will have the opportunity to train for healthcare careers which are long-term jobs with stable wages," said Dixon Slingerland, executive director, Youth Policy Institute.

Students intern at hospitals throughout the Southland, like Mission Community Hospital in Panorama City.

"It's an opportunity for a lot of us," said Veronica Macias, a graduate. "You know, because the way the deficit is going on right now, a lot of people are losing their jobs. I just have to be prepared for whatever comes my way."

With the unemployment rate slightly over 12 percent in L.A. County, officials say anyone in need of a job can sign up for the program. There are hundreds of spots still open.


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