RSU 24 Adult Ed offering new job training programs

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SULLIVAN — Two new programs that tie training with real jobs in residential construction and as medical administrative assistants are being offered by Regional School Unit 24.

“Local businesses have expressed their need for dedicated employees with good work ethic,” said Adult Education Director Ander Thébaud. “It’s about building a local work force.”

She said the two-day-a-week, 12-week programs will begin the first week of February. The targeted enrollment is 15 students per program.

Scholarships are available for the $800 tuition as well as possible help with mileage to attend the classes and internships, Thébaud said.

“We’re trying to do a low- or no-cost training program,” she said.

The programs are funded with an Integrated Education and Training grant from the Department of Labor.

The Regional School Unit 24 program is one of five funded in the state.

Thébaud said students who enroll could have the goal of continuing on to further their education, whether high school credentials or college.

Each curriculum will include a “Work Ready” component to help students prepare resumes, serve as interns, meet with employers, learn about using data bases as well as other basic computer skills and tips on answering the telephone in a business setting.

Thébaud said students who enroll in the residential construction program will gain hands-on experience with local contractors and likely will build something — such as a garden shed or ice shack — that can be donated or auctioned.

Those enrolled will gain OSHA and potentially National Center for Construction Education and Research certifications.

Students who complete the program also could emerge with up to 17 Eastern Maine Community College credits that could be transferred to the school’s Building Construction and Technology Program.

Contractor Tobin Peacock of Peacock Builders in Bar Harbor, consulted with Thébaud on what is needed in the construction world.

Carpentry, he said, can be a very rewarding, creative and stable career path.

“The problem contractors are facing is there is plenty of good work out there, but not enough of a qualified work force,” he said.

“We need more people to be interested in entering the trades and programs that provide some base level carpentry training and workforce skills to help create a stronger employee base,” Peacock said.

Mount Desert Island Hospital helped shape the medical administrative assistant program, which will include, among other classes, billing and coding and medical terminology.

Joanne Harris, director of human resources at MDI Hospital, said finding more trained medical administrative assistants to work hand-in-hand with doctors and other practitioners is at the top of her list.

“They set the patient up so that when the provider comes in they’re ready,” Harris said. “The chart is there, the blood pressure has been taken and whatever other preparatory work that needs to occur. We just don’t have enough people in our immediate labor market to fill the need.”

She said medical administrative assistants can advance in the health field.

“It’s a great starting point for people who have an interest in the medical field,” Harris said.

She said an entry level medical administrative assistant could expect to be paid $11.91 per hour. If certified, the entry level pay is usually $15.07 per hour.

Participants in the adult education training will be prepared to take the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant exam.

“Our payors, like Medicare and commercial insurers, are requiring that medical assistants really have the knowledge equivalent to a certified medical assistant,” Harris said. “This is not just nice to have, but it’s what we need as we go forward.”

“Every once in a while you get a program that actually works,” she said of the “Assist and Build” program. “It’s a good start and a good job.”

For more information, call Thébaud at 422-4794.