Rebecca had been working in design and drafting for more than 15 years, when she faced lay-off and unemployment. Her job search effort was challenging considering the economic times and her knowledge of current AutoCad programs. She was led to WIA during this timeframe due to the fact that she needed some updated training. Rebecca met with a JJC Advisor and created an academic plan to complete coursework necessary to meet industry/employer expectations in today's job market. After being laid off for 1½ years and gaining the training necessary, Rebecca recently accepted a full-time position. Rebecca commented "going to school and showing that on a resume, I believe, is a great help in locating a job." Rebecca had identified a need to enhance her knowledge of AutoCad to be viable in the workplace. She made the decision to return to the classroom in order to reach her career goals.
When asked about the WIA program and referring others to Grundy Workforce, Rebecca says "Absolutely! There are various workshops that are offered. The staff keeps in regular contact with telephone calls and email. It's a wonderful opportunity."
- Rebecca Tollefsen, Grundy WIA grant recipient
Dean Wakefield sought out WIA training in 2011, a couple of years after he was laid-off from the Alcoa plant due to a shutdown. His decision to seek out WIA training was due in part to the limited number of jobs available in the local area. Dean initially wasn't quite sure what goals to set for future training and employment.
After some analysis of his past work experiences in food service and industrial manufacturing, Dean decided that increasing his skills in the industrial industry would be most beneficial. He selected the Forklift Certification program at Joliet Junior College, anticipating that the combination of his past experience and this new certification would increase his chances of finding work.
When reflecting on the WIA program support and training completion, Dean feels "the biggest impact I had from the WIA training was the feeling that I wasn't alone in searching for work". Dean feels that the program pointed him in the right direction and showed him options he didn't realize were available. He also feels that the training he had through the WIA program allowed him to be looked at on a higher level professionally then someone who didn't have the same type of training. Dean stated "With the employment level the way it is currently just getting your foot in the door somewhere can make all the difference." He added "I would encourage anybody looking for work direction to consider the WIA program; you really have nothing to lose. As soon as I started the WIA process, the hopelessness I felt in my past job search efforts started to fade and I kept asking myself why I didn't start this sooner?"
- Dean Wakefield, Grundy WIA grant recipient
Kim Herda has worked in office settings for the past 30 years - majority in medical office settings. When faced with dislocation and the closing of her office, she was faced with looking for new employment. While she had experience with a variety of computer programs and office machines, she realized that present day employers are looking for the crème of the crop, wanting people with college degrees. After futile attempts at gaining a new position, she started exploring her options on returning to school to complete a college degree. Kim found out about WIA and visited the Grundy Workforce Services office to seek support to return to school. Kim says "without WIA I would not have been able to return to school."
At this point in the WIA program Kim feels that it has been a positive experience. “I would never have been able to financially afford returning to school since I was not working. My workforce coordinator is extremely supportive and has been very helpful with everything every step of the way.” Kim is working on her Associates Degree for Administrative Assistant at Joliet Junior College. She also continued her job search and gained employment within the healthcare industry once again. “At this point in time I am still working on completing my degree, but at my coordinator’s suggestions the first few classes I completed were computer classes. These classes make me more marketable in the workforce and they have already paid off. I have been able to help co-workers and have more confidence when I’m using newer versions of programs that I have used for years. No more fumbling around looking for the menu items.”
When asked “If your WIA experience/support has been positive thus far, would you encourage other residents to consider this type of program?” Kim’s response is, “I would highly recommend anyone who qualifies for this program to do it. You are only improving yourself. There are times when it’s been a struggle between family, work, and school, but I it is totally worth it and in the long run my family will reap the benefits.”
- Kim Herda, Grundy WIA grant recipient
"I have worked ever since I was able to drive. My first job was working at a hardware store while I was in High School. I learned from my parents the values of punctuality and working as smart as I could until the completion of the task would only benefit from hard work. This combination of problem solving and a strong work ethic has assisted me throughout all of the jobs I have had during my working life. After High School I worked construction in the summer driving off road dump trucks to pay for my college. I was working on completing my general education courses with the hope of being accepted into a Physical Therapy program. Unfortunately, this goal was never met. As we all know, life changes and we have to do what is necessary to survive. I worked hard operating heavy equipment for the next decade until another change occurred. As the economy slowed the career that I had worked so hard to keep had vanished. I could not wait for the construction industry to recover from this economic crisis."
My only option was to retrain for a different career. I had to find a way to return to school. I heard about the WIA program from a friend, and after a few meetings and tests, I found that I would be eligible to use this excellent resource to retrain for a new career. The WIA program offered training for many different career choices. In the strangest of chances I was able to return to what I had started so long ago. The WIA program afforded me the opportunity to finish my remaining general education classes. Upon completion of these classes, I applied and was accepted into the Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) program at Kankakee Community College.
Through the WIA program I have been given a second chance in life to go back and finish what I had started. Upon completing the PTA program, I will have an Associate’s Degree in Applied Science. I will be licensed to practice Physical Therapy by the state of Illinois under the supervision of a Physical Therapist. Currently I am in my second semester of the PTA program and looking forward to my first summer clinical. I have just slightly over a year left in the PTA program before I can graduate and sit for licensure.
I would strongly recommend seeking the advice and support of the WIA program if you have experienced career loss. All of the WIA staff and counselors have been extremely helpful.
- Samuel Hutton, Grundy WIA grant recipient
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