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July 14, 2004

WIA Program at ULM Helps Displaced Workers and Others Attend College

In an all-too-common scenario these days, a corporation takes cost-cutting measures to consolidate its operations into fewer cities, and the cities that are left behind struggle to replace those tax-generating businesses and to retrain the workers who lose their jobs. Fortunately, Louisiana has a plan that will help to retrain the workforce displaced by these departures, a plan that calls for the cooperation and efforts of local universities.

As an important partner in this effort, the University of Louisiana at Monroe will participate in the Louisiana State Department of Labor's Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Program, a program which provides tuition waivers for students who meet the WIA criteria for admission.

"ULM has entered this program to help those residents of our area who do qualify for WIA to be able to enroll in academic or continuing education programs more easily," explained Dr. Jo Galle, academic program coordinator of WIA. "This program provides significant financial incentive for displaced workers to remain in their home community to pursue a new career by taking classes which ultimately will lead to employment," she continued.

Dr. Rhonda Adams Jones, Director of the Division of Continuing Education, agrees that WIA can help those who qualify obtain the training they need to enter new careers. "This program may be especially useful to employees of State Farm who would like to go into another field and obtain a position they desire," Dr. Jones stated.

What workers must do is to ascertain whether the field they wish to enter is covered by the WIA program. As a starting point, the Department of Labor includes such programs that have been determined to be in "high demand" in the northeast Louisiana area. Those academic majors that are in high demand, as determined by the LDOL, include the following twelve degree programs: computer information systems, accounting, kinesiology, elementary education, music education, nursing, child development (associate degree), entrepreneurship, earth science education, biology education, chemistry education and educational leadership.

This initial list of twelve programs has been extended by the LDOL to include fourteen of ULM's Continuing Education programs that are also eligible for WIA funding. They include training in bookkeeping, record management, medical transcription, paralegal studies, and project management. Certification in AutoCAD, advanced coding for the physician's office, Advanced Hospital Coding and CCS Prep, certified bookkeeping, and eBusiness is available as well as programs leading to a career as a Microsoft specialist, help desk Specialist, pharmacy technician, or travel agent.

Thus far, the list of disciplines covered by the WIA has grown to twenty-six, leading Dr. Jones to say, "We believe that a large number of people in northeast Louisiana will qualify for the tuition exemption waivers that WIA can provide, especially displaced workers."

What must interested persons do to find out if they qualify? "They first will need to go to one of the three local agencies in our area and apply," said Dr. Jones. "The application process itself will determine eligibility."

Once approved by the WIA, students will receive notification of acceptance and should then see Ms. Frances Self in the Admissions Office in Sandel Hall at ULM to begin the process of obtaining a tuition waiver for the course.

Dr. Jones points out that, "The WIA program is another way that ULM is responding to the needs of residents in the Monroe area. We want to help those in our community to obtain the educational training they need to pursue the careers they want."

Where To Apply

For residents of Ouachita Parish: One Stop Shop at 3158 Louisville in Monroe

For residents of Franklin, Caldwell, Jackson, Madison, Tensas, East Carroll and West Carroll Parishes: Winnsboro Job Center at 209B Fair Avenue in Winnsboro

For residents of Union Parish: Union Workforce Center, 303-B East Water Street, Farmerville, La.

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