WILTON — Designed to alleviate “the bottleneck in current academic and clinical training paths” for health care workers and potential ones, a $4.82 million federal recovery act grant was received by the state through the Department of Labor, Garret Oswald, director of the Maine Jobs Council, told a gathering of health care workers last week at the Wilton CareerCenter.
Brought together for a time to thank the health-care industry, the event was planned by the CareerCenter to allow those representing local ambulance crews, nursing homes, nurses and education representatives a time to network and learn of needs and resources, said Patty Ladd, center manager.
A Franklin County native, Oswald was asked to speak briefly about the grant intended to alleviate barriers to employment and elevate the current work force, he said.
“Someone who’s a CNA and interested in becoming an RN can receive the appropriate training to travel those pathways,” he said. While moving up, entry-level people can be brought in to replace them and start the process of moving up if they choose.
The grant can be used for incumbent workers as well as the displaced and unemployed, he said.
Because Maine has an older work force, there are more health issues and a greater needs, said Bryant Hoffman, Local Area Workforce Investment Board executive director.
There are also more health care related positions now including jobs from medical records to information technology.
“Health care has its own little community,” he said, explaining a variety of positions involved as they consider their needs for their own food, garbage and maintenance systems.
Advancing through the health care system has been hampered by a lack of teachers and sites for clinical training, said Karen Rogers, education director at Franklin Memorial Hospital.
“We’ve had to turn people away because there are not enough teachers and we didn’t have the funding to address it,” she said.
After receiving the grant, grant managers are now working on how to spread the funds so that it benefits the state as a whole, Oswald said.
Health care is one of the better growing sectors in the state of Maine along with construction and Information Technology, he said.
Because of this grant, health care training programs will soon be initiated through the state CareerCenters and Local Workforce Development.