By Andy Roberts

The COVID-19 pandemic struck much of America hard, but as happens so often, those working in beginning careers or working multiple low-wage jobs were hardest hit.

      Dreams went away or were put on hold when more than 50,000 individuals in the Omaha Metro area were laid off, furloughed, or experienced pandemic-related cuts in their work hours. As a result, people living paycheck-to-paycheck struggled while trying to answer the questions that have plagued many for their entire life.

      “How do I find the time to learn new skills? How do I pay my expenses if I have to take time off? What if my current job doesn’t offer paid time off? How do I replace my income if I quit my current job to try to improve my situation?”

      These are hard-working, motivated people who desire to improve their skills to make a better life, and at the same time, meet the Omaha area’s need for a better-educated workforce.

      Even free job training can put their families at financial risk.

      Metropolitan Community College’s (MCC) Workforce Support Grant and Gap Programs can support students whose lives have been impacted by COVID-19 and who are unemployed or underemployed. This new life-changing program will provide short-term skills training in cooperation with state and federal workforce funding systems.

      “If people take advantage of this opportunity, it can change the quality of life for those individuals and their families,” said Tim Clark, Manager of Community Relations for Metropolitan Community College. “It’s tough to make more money if you don’t have the skills needed to match that increase!”

When combined with MCC career coaching, job placement services, transportation support, and other wrap-around supports, the Workforce Support Grant can help bridge a significant barrier to jumpstarting new, high-paying careers that lead to even better opportunities. 

      MCC’s Career Focus Program will include many interrelated programs that include stipends to support those individuals who take advantage of these offerings. In addition, training, career coaching, and outreach will be used to raise awareness of the program throughout the area, with a particular focus on North Omaha and other populations most likely to benefit from this plan.

      This program will use an intake and orientation process to enroll students. It will then outline their participation requirements and set the stage for the education and training that will lead to their success at an accelerated pace.

      Intake sessions will include a meeting to discuss each potential participant’s employment goals, what barriers may need to be addressed, and how the Workforce Support Grant can help them reach their dreams. In addition, all program participants will have an Employment Plan to guide them through the process.

MCC offers an array of short-term training options, some with training options in as little as ten days. The MCC also maintains strong partnerships with local employers to supply work and work-based learning experiences for students in the program. A variety of support services are available to students to resolve any issues that may prevent their success.

“The job market is in great need of skilled laborers,” said Tammy Green, Director of Workforce & IT Innovation: Career Advancement & Adult Education for MCC. “This is an amazing opportunity to gain the skills you need to boost your paycheck and get your money game up!” 

More information please call 531-622-2110 and/or visit http://www.mccneb.edu/gap   

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Pranjal Doorwar