If you're a Lee County resident and your low-skill, low-paying job isn't cutting it, and you have not had an opportunity for higher education or previous job training, opportunity is knocking if you're willing to work at it.
Low-income residents can take advantage of an award-winning, cost-free job training program in medical front-office skills and earn more pay.
The seven-month training program will take place Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at Fort Myers Institute of Technology (formerly High Tech Central), 3800 Michigan Ave., Fort Myers.
Classes, which are taught by medical office professionals, start April 22 and run through November.
"This is government-paid job training for people working at low-pay jobs to give them an opportunity for a career at the front desk of a doctor's office or medical records," said program coordinator Barbara Goins.
Telephone interviews are now being accepted through April 18. The class will take 20 students, is filled on a first-come, first-served basis and fills up quickly, Goins said.
All applicants must be either working, have a work history or have spouse who is working, must provide proof of income or unemployment compensation, proof of high school diploma or GED, and proof of Lee County residency; they must pass a criminal background check and basic assessment in reading, language and spelling and have reliable transportation, Goins said.
Goins said once enrolled, the students have a high rate of graduation.
"Normally, people let their lives get in the way and they don't stick with it. Anyone who is determined to do what's required will graduate," Goins said.
The Medical Office Skills (certificate) Program provides instruction in keyboarding and computer applications, medical terminology, medical office procedures, HIPAA laws, and basic billing and coding.
Students also receive assistance with resumes, interview skills, and job searching, as well as one year of intensive case management.
Goins said those who find work start out at between $10.50 and $12.50 an hour, which can be a life-changer for them and their families, as they become self-sufficient.
The program covers all costs for tuition, books and can cover childcare costs during class hours.
"I encourage anyone who meets the requirements to call," Goins said. "We really want to get the phone ringing."
This training is available through the Lee Education and Employment Program and is funded by a Community Services Block Grant administered by Lee County Human Services.
The program won a 2001 National Association of Counties Achievement Award for employment and training and was the only county program in the United States to win a 2002 Public Service Excellence Award.
Contact Goins at Lee County Human Services' at 533-7902 for a telephone screening to determine eligibility.