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Home > Article Categories > Medical Vocational Articles > Remaining Job-Training Funds Redirected to School Lunches

Remaining Job-Training Funds Redirected to School Lunches

The telephones were ringing non-stop in the Pueblo County Housing and Human Services office, a little more than a year ago, after county officials declared they had acquired $452,000 in federal stimulus money to assist jobless people go through quick vocational training at Pueblo Community College.

According to Ted Ortiviz, director of the county housing office, more than 500 people raced to give their applications.

That program over the past year showed the government's good intentions in hitting the glitches of reality during tough economy ? employers who dislike the paperwork included in hiring the graduates, young people who still must go through further remedial education before they could sign up for the vocational classes and some people who just chose to become full-time PCC students instead.

According to Ortiviz, around 240 people were able to get approval for the program. Of the 240 people who got the approval, approximately, only 28 people or so actually finished their training, found jobs, and had their employers join in the salary reimbursement program.

"I think time was our biggest enemy," Ortiviz said Tuesday. "It was a rushed program to get people trained and working, and we only had a year to get it all accomplished."

The reason on the job-training program can now be concluded; Ortiviz has received permission from Pueblo County commissioners to put what remains of the job-training grant ($124,000), into a home-lunch program for low-income students in both Pueblo City Schools and District 70.

For the weekends, the program supplies low-income students with take-home meals. There are about 15,174 students in both districts who will benefit from the redirection of the funds, Ortiviz said.

It took fast work shifting administrative gears from utilizing the funds for job-training classes to school lunches. Although, Ortiviz mentioned that the county stood to lose the $124,000 in stimulus money if it were not committed by Sept. 30.

In early 2009, both city and local school districts of Pueblo County were awarded about $23 million in federal stimulus money. It was part of the $787 billion stimulus legislation that President Barack Obama and the Democratic Congress signed in hopes of keeping the economy from a depression.

The $452,000 fund for the fast-track vocational program caught quick public interest since it was devoted to give ample job training in a single semester so people could apply for work in a few number of fields, with the likes of emergency medical technician, pharmacy technician, and simple welding skills.

Ortiviz said, "A major problem was that a number of these students had been out of school for some time and needed to improve their basic math and reading skills to take part in the vocational programs."

Some of the students took most of the year to get prepared for the job-training classes.

One incentive of the program was to provide employers a minimal assistance on wages if they hired graduates of the program.

The only hindrance, according to Ortiviz, is the needed paperwork required by the state Department of Local Affairs seems to be burdensome.

"Some employers told us it wasn't worth the administrative time to hire someone and then to apply for reimbursement," he said.

Ortiviz relates, as a one-time grant, the job program had a few success. A couple of dozen people were actually hired into new jobs as was designed, while some partakers got work on their own outside the program guidelines. Others, chose to stay enrolled at PCC, hoping to get a more thorough training or education.

Unfortunately, a program aimed to assist more than 200 jobless people find work wasn't able to achieve that goal in the end.

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