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Job training group gives Vermonters a second chance - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Job training group gives Vermonters a second chance

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

A program in the Queen City is giving the under or unemployed a second chance at a career.

Workers in health care and information technology fields make up just over 13 percent of Vermont's labor force, but in some fields, there's still a shortage of workers. One job training group put on its largest career seminar ever Monday, hoping to boost skills in the workplace.

Four years in the Army's 82nd Airborne and a decade's worth of work experience has not been enough.

"I am a veteran that has been underemployed and underutilized," said Amy Rosa of Bradford.

Rosa is just looking for another chance.

"I have aspirations just to further my education and reinvent my professional skills," she said.

Rosa was joined by 500 other Vermonters looking for that same chance Monday. They all filed into the Sheraton Hotel hoping to enter Vermont HITEC, a workforce development group's job training program.

"This is really about hope," said Gerry Ghazi, of Vermont HITEC.

The 500 people will compete for 15 spots in the HITEC program, where they'll learn skills for medical coding, a job that involves analyzing medical records to reimburse doctors.

"There is going to be a shortage of coders moving forward," said Chris Powell, the CEO of Precyse.

Precyse will guarantee jobs to 15 people as long as they have at least a GED. They'll go through a 10-week program to achieve what Powell says would normally takes years in a college classroom.

"Precyse, what they normally do is they hire individuals that have 1-2 years of experience and are already certified," Ghazi said.

The goal for all in attendance: achieve what Matthew Gamage did just a decade ago.

"It gave me an opportunity to really reinvent myself and move forward into that whole field," said Gamage, a program graduate.

Gamage was laid off by IBM and had no luck finding a job until he completed a similar apprenticeship program.

"It really gave me a launching into point to get into the health care industry. Without that, I really wouldn't have been able to get into the door," he said.

To get in that door all 500 will do an aptitude assessment, and then two rounds of interviews will follow.

"Medical field and IT, the partnership of this is a great pairing of the two," said Rosa.

Rosa's goal is to get into a new business. Powell's goal is to get in the business of second chances.

"It's innovative, and I think that's where really great companies are going to be out in front of this stuff moving forward," Powell said.

Wages for the medical coding positions go up as employees gain experience, paying $25 per hour after two years. The training and apprenticeship programs are funded by both state and federal money.

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