MoHealthWINs Bridges the Gap
Metropolitan Community College launched programs in Health Informatics, Support Services / Maintenance Technician, and Nursing. Many students were able to get internships and practical experience while attending classes or studying online.
Low-skilled workers’ needs were addressed through remediation, tutoring and counseling. Stackable credentials and credit for prior learning improved retention and completion rates. The college worked closely with industry to design coursework that prepared students for employment, and used online, hybrid and classroom instruction to strengthen technology skills.
Students in the Maintenance Technician program interviewed for internships with nine companies at the end of their coursework, with a 100 percent placement rate.
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MCC’s Ladies of IT: MoHealthWINs Program Breaks Down Barriers for Women
Of the 19 displaced workers that got into Metropolitan Community College’s fall 2012 Healthcare IT Technician certificate course, 14 are women, all over 40 years of age. This was especially noteworthy, given how notoriously difficult it is to find women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) positions or training for STEM careers – in fact, women make up less than a quarter of STEM jobs in the workforce.
Among those fourteen are Jayasheela “Sheela” Perumalla, Eleanor Whitten, Drucilla “Didi” Collins, Shawna Wilson, Cassandra Collins, Julia Haupt and Ginger Kuftack, shown here. When told that MoHealthWINs staff had dubbed them “The Ladies of IT” the women laughed and said, “Well, they don’t call it a ‘motherboard’ for nothin’.”
Besides being displaced workers, the Ladies of IT have many other things in common: each of them has racked up at least twenty years of experience in various IT and telecommunications positions. Perumalla holds a bachelor’s degree, received in her native India. Wilson has a master’s degree and various professional certifications. Kuftack and Whitten are both military veterans with telecommunications training. All of them have worked in call centers.
Over the years, they have tried to balance work and family when companies were not always willing to accommodate time off for childcare and other personal demands. Yet, they continued to gravitate to more technical careers, finding that STEM jobs pay more (women in STEM jobs earn 33% more than women in non-STEM jobs).
Another point the ladies agreed on: strong personalities, standing up for yourself and having a sense of humor go a long way. Likewise, the ladies viewed their layoffs as an opportunity. Being at ages where their children are grown or in high school, now was the time to focus on their own personal and professional development and dive into a career change. The MoHealthWINs program was their ticket.
The ladies were especially grateful for the short-term training option offered by the program. The IT and healthcare IT career pathways provide opportunities for continued learning, as well as a level of job security the ladies had not experienced before — in an age where all information has gone digital, technical support will always be needed. MoHealthWINs IT training can lead to certifications as a Network Administration Engineer, Computer Support Technician, or Computer Support Specialist.
Over the past six months, nearly 200 students have received services through the MoHealthWINs program — taught at MCC’s Business and Technology campus — including job training in one of four career pathways: nursing, environmental services, IT and healthcare IT. Eleven area employers are actively engaged in curriculum development, as well as providing field experience opportunities for students.
Most importantly, none of the ladies see the MoHealthWINs project as an end-point. It is only the beginning. “This program has re-awakened the part of me that loves to learn and loves to grow,” said Didi Collins.
MoWINs Project Director