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College now offering free workforce trainings

Area residents interested furthering their education and learning a new skill now have a golden opportunity at Beaufort County Community College. Thanks to a combination of existing scholarships and new economic relief funding from the state, the college is now able to offer all short-term workforce trainings for free.

The new funding comes from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund and will remain available through the end of September 2022. Those funds specifically will be made available for students who have been impacted by COVID-19, through loss of a job, reduction of hours, increased transportation or childcare costs or having to become a caregiver for a sick family member.

Continuing Education staff will work with students to use this new funding in combination with existing scholarships from Blue Cross Blue Shield, State Employees Credit Union, Golden LEAF Foundation and the BCCC Foundation, along with funding assistance from NCWorks, to make sure that all credential programs are free.

“In the past, we’ve worked with students to help them access financial assistance to cover registration and course fees, but some have had to pay out of pocket for uniforms or textbooks, which has been a deal-breaker for a lot of our students,” said Stacey Gerard, BCCC’s vice president of continuing education. “Now with GEER funding, we can confidently say that if you want to earn a credential as a healthcare tech, HVAC tech, CDL driver, income maintenance worker, EMT, firefighter or work in manufacturing, you can do it for free. Additionally, we will make sure that all of our high school equivalency students leave with one of these credentials.”

High school juniors and seniors are already eligible to take free classes that lead to a certification through Career and College Promise Workforce Pathways. These include Emergency Medical Technician, Heating, HVAC Technician, Commercial Driver’s License Truck Driver, Phlebotomy Technician, Nurse Aide and Small Engine Repair. High School Equivalency (GED) and English Language Acquisition classes are free, as well. The college also offers free small business counseling and free seminars through its Small Business Center.

“For anyone out there that has been impacted by COVID, or who is simply seeking a new career pathway, now is the time that they can come to the college at no cost and be able to participate in some of these workforce trainings that lead to an industry-recognized credential,” Gerard said. “Then, for the employers in the service area, this allows the college to provide a pipeline of qualified applicants to any job they may have opening up.”