In response to the economic downturn, Community College of Allegheny County is introducing its own stimulus package for Western Pennsylvania, offering free tuition for laid-off workers and transition programs for employers forced to downsize.
“Allegheny County and CCAC have a long history of working together to provide educational support and workforce training to our residents and businesses, especially during difficult economic times,” said Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato. “Allegheny County and CCAC are proud to join together again to offer a new initiative that will provide laid-off workers with free tuition in targeted fields in order to help them retool for high-demand jobs in our area. We're fortunate to have an institution like CCAC that can quickly respond to the changing needs and circumstances of our community.”
The Career Transition Center for Dislocated Workers will extend a waiver of tuition and fees to unemployed individuals when they present a letter from their employers verifying that the unemployment was due to company layoffs and not employee choice or fault. Dislocated workers can then receive free tuition and fees in one of five high-priority, high-demand certificate and degree programs within the first year after becoming unemployed.
Five programs will participate in the tuition waiver this spring, with special courses opening at a later start date in March and continuing through May. Credit programs include Information Technology Support at Boyce campus, Welding at the West Hills center and Phlebotomy at South campus.
Non-credit certificate programs include Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) training at Allegheny campus and Certified Nurse Aide training, which is currently offered at the Downtown center.
The special start date in March will enable participants to complete the spring term and, in the longer programs, continue with regularly scheduled courses during summer sessions. CCAC's regular spring term began Jan. 12.
“We want to remain responsive to the needs of the community,” said Dr. Alex Johnson, CCAC president. “Combined with our other short-term retraining, assistance and partnership programs, the Career Transition Center will help us to continue to support the economy of our region by providing affordable education for dislocated workers.”
Interested individuals must apply for financial aid; the Dislocated Worker Tuition Waiver will cover tuition and fees beyond what is paid by other grants. Additional financial aid, such as GAP scholarships, may be able to assist with textbooks and other expenses.
The costs of the tuition waivers and establishing the Center will be absorbed by CCAC, noted Tom Santone, chair of the college's board of trustees. “CCAC has a rich history of stepping up when we face these economic crises in our region,” he said. “At this time, our region and our community need CCAC.”
The Career Transition Center will offer processes for individuals and employers. Dislocated workers can directly contact CCAC to find out what types of short-term options they can choose. Alternately, employers facing layoffs, downsizing or restructuring that will affect 50 or more employees can begin to plan transition strategies with the aid of Allegheny County Economic Development and CCAC through the CCAC–Allegheny County Workforce Alliance.
For more information about the Career Transition Center for Dislocated Workers, call 412-788-7351.