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GCC: 1 of 10 community colleges to receive rapid response grant to target “skills gap”

Posted on Tuesday May 28th 2013

Greenfield Community College is one of ten Massachusetts community colleges to receive a Rapid Response Grant from the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education. The Rapid Response Incentive Program was funded in the FY13 budget to support efforts at community colleges to respond quickly to the workforce development needs of employers. With the $41,739 grant, GCC will work with a consortium of employers providing long-term health care to expand training in Elder Care. Essential Skills and Knowledge for Long Term Care (LTC) Providers in Franklin & Hampshire Counties will provide foundational knowledge and interpersonal skills to those working in direct contact with elders and adults with disabilities and/or chronic conditions. This program will address the most critical needs identified by Franklin and Hampshire County long-term care providers/employers (Elder Care Grant Partners). The Elder Care Grant Partners include Buckley HealthCare Center (Greenfield), Charlene Manor Extended Care Facility (Greenfield), Farren Care Center (Turners Falls), Franklin County Home Care Corporation (Turners Falls), and O’Connell Care & Home (serving Hampshire, Franklin, and Hampden counties). The Partners are providing matching funds for their incumbent employees to attend the training sessions. Collaborating on this project are the Franklin Hampshire Regional Employment Board and the Tripp Memorial Foundation.

GCC’s Rapid Response Grant will fund six five- to fifteen-hour-long trainings to be offered twice each, both at GCC and in a workplace. The grant pays for the delivery of sessions so students can take the class free of charge. The classes included in the project are: “Caring for People with Alzheimer’s Disease,” “Assisted Dining,” “Working with Persons with Mental Health, Emotional, or Behavioral Issues,” “Effective Communication for Consumer Centered Care,” “Total Restorative Care,” “Supervisor to Coach,” and the existing GCC credit course PSY 277 Psychology of Death and Dying broken into three 1-credit/CEU blended modules. Modification of PSY 277 into 1-credit modules will meet employees’ needs for continuing education units for licensed staff. The credit  modules are also “stackable,” meaning they can be used as credits toward certificates and degrees offered at GCC. The training sessions are scheduled to meet employers’ needs and will begin in June and continue through June 2014. The six non-credit training classes will be held twice a year with 12 participants in each for a total of 144 participants. Three 1‐credit Psychology of Death and Dying classes will be held once each with up to 20 students in each.

These trainings are geared toward health care workers who have direct contact with elders, including Home Health Aides, Certified Nursing Assistants, Social Workers, Licensed Practical Nurses, Registered Nurses, and other front-line workers such as housekeepers, dietary, activities staff, and community members interested in participating in long-term care. The range of classes address the supplemental training needs of these various employees.

Bob Barba, GCC’s Dean for Community Education, said “In challenging economic times, training budgets of the local employer community are stretched to support the training their employees need. GCC’s work with this grant helps employers meet their critical training needs and helps employees develop greater skills and credentials. This grant is a concrete example of the state providing resources to do targeted workforce development work in the challenging conditions of a rural community. We often hear from area employers that GCC already does extremely well at meeting the training needs of the local employer community. This grant enhances that ability even more.”

Alyce Stiles, GCC’s Director of Workforce Development said, “The training supported by this grant responds directly to feedback from health care employers surveyed about the essential skills and knowledge needed by their employees. This collaboration between GCC, Tripp Memorial Foundation, the Franklin Hampshire County Employment Board, and the long-term care employers will strengthen health care throughout our region and help create a sustainable community with a robust economy and jobs.”

Sue Pratt, Founder and Director of Tripp Memorial Foundation and Coordinator of GCC Nurse Aide Program, said “Tripp works in partnership with GCC to deliver caregiver training. The providers benefit from GCC’s and Tripp’s expertise to be able to offer this continuing education to their employees. They recognize they can’t provide quality care without a quality workforce. This project is unique in that the partner employers are neighbors that realize they can offer better training by collaborating with other employers. One side benefit of this project is building the community of long-term care providers. We’re a small community sharing a workforce. It makes sense for everyone to work together.”

Edin Thompson, Administrator of Buckley Healthcare Center, said, “GCC and Tripp have been very responsive to our requests for assistance with training our employees. These training sessions will both enhance our employees’ ability to work well with our residents and provide a life enrichment opportunity for our employees. They’ll have a chance to affirm what they already know, expand their skills, and see their employers investing in them.”

The Rapid Response Program, initially capitalized at $2,250,000 and subsequently reduced to $500,000 through 9C reductions, authorized the Commissioner of Higher Education to grant funds to community colleges in support of employer requests for workforce training programs. To qualify, these grant funds are to be used to establish workforce training programs within 90 days of a request received from an employer. Further, this initiative allows community colleges to establish accelerated degree and certificate programs and other workforce training programs that are responsive to the scheduling needs of working adults. Qualifying workforce development programs could address employers’ needs for an expanded workforce in support of business growth or relocation of a business into the Commonwealth. Such programs could also address employers’ needs to enhance the skills and knowledge of their current workforce in response to changing industry requirements or business competitiveness challenges.

The Massachusetts Department of Higher Education received a number of proposals from community colleges that reflected synergistic working relationships with local employers, and which offered an avenue to meet employers’ training needs. In many cases, this grant program has allowed for employers to offer training that will allow them to grow the jobs available in their companies, and to expand the marketable skills of their employees. This program was also an opportunity for some campuses to develop new training modules that could be shared with other campuses. The projects represented by these grants will simultaneously meet multiple important policy goals of the Commonwealth, as well as provide further demonstration of the business training capacity of the Commonwealth’s fifteen community colleges.

For more information, contact Alyce Stiles at (413) 775-1607 or Sue Pratt at (413) 775-1672.

By Mary McClintock, ’82

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