INDIANAPOLIS — COVID-19 has left many people jobless, forcing them to look for other work and possibly change careers. The Washington Township Adult Education Program is offering free job-skills training to any Marion County resident right now, impacted by the pandemic.
Graduating high school, Cade Johnson didn’t know what he wanted to do. It’s confusing. A lot of directions you can go,” he said.
So he decided to participate in the Washington Township Adult Education program, training in welding. “It was a lot faster and something I had interest in,” said Johnson. “It helped me get a scale up and helped me get a good credential when it comes time for me to come get a job.”
Now, he’s certified through the American Welding Society, with a starting wage of $18-26 an hour.
“Some of our more popular trainings are in the medical field including dental assisting, certified medical assisting, pharmacy tech. We have a lot of opportunities in the IT field,” describes Lara Pastore, Assistant Supervisor of Community And Continuing Education at Washington Township.
The program serves about 1,800 students a year and offers a range of career training in high-wage, high-demand industries set by the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.
“We are trying to find people who are unemployed or even under-employed,” she said. “So they’re not working full-time or they’re not working at a high-skilled demand job.”
Because of COVID-19, Pastore said, “We’re having people who are coming to us from the hospitality industry, the restaurants who are really struggling to get the hours that they used to get. And they’re deciding to make that change at this point in their life.”
Moving a lot of training online to adjust for COVID, the program has been able to reach more people than before who had barriers with transportation or childcare.
The City of Indianapolis has also supported the program with additional funds. They’re trying to get people to enroll this session by November 15th.
“It feels a lot better. Whereas if I wouldn’t have done anything, I have nothing to show for the time. Now I have something to show for myself," said Johnson.
If you don’t have a high school diploma, the program can actually pay for your high school equivalency exam, something not possible before. Plus, there are free classes and tutoring sessions to help anyone who needs that basic credential, including English language classes.