SPRINGVALE — Kaitlyn Hubert had a high school diploma and a few community college classes under her belt, but she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do with her studies. Then she got pregnant and her decreased energy level gave her one short-term goal: Go to school closer to her home in Sanford. She enrolled in a math class at Sanford Community Adult Education (SCAE), and soon she had a new idea.
“I looked at the ESCP [Employment Skills Certificate] program and thought that would be a good fit,” said Hubert, who now lives in Lebanon.
It was better than a good fit. The program helped her brush up her math skills and then gain clerical, administrative assistant, and some accounting skills. In short order, she had her accounting clerk certificate, a long-term goal — work in an accounting department — and a job. She’s a customer service associate at Kennebunk Savings Bank in Springvale. She was hired one week after collecting her certificate at SCAE and even before completing all her accounting classes. She loves the job, which is nearly full-time and pays benefits.
“It’s exactly what I was looking for,” she said. “I was shocked to find it so fast.”
She now hopes to continue taking classes and eventually work her way into the bank’s accounting department.
In today’s uncertain job market, employment skills certificate programs can offer an affordable, practical path to a new career. Classes are open to those who have finished high school as well as those who are a few credits shy and want to work on employment and academic skills at the same time.
Allen Lampert, the director at Sanford Community Adult Education (SCAE), believes this is a great time for individuals to seek new career opportunities.
“There has been a lot of change in the job market the past few years,” he said. “Companies are recalibrating their needs and positions. People who have multiple skill sets and experiences can find jobs, and SCAE can play a pivotal role in helping individuals retrain and locate those opportunities.”
SCAE grants general career skills, clerical skills, administrative assistant, accounting clerk and medical secretary certificates. Many students work toward more than one certificate simultaneously. The clerical skills classes cover everything from computer applications to writing and communications to basic accounting. Students who aim for the medical secretary certificate also study anatomy and physiology and medical billing and coding.
Students who register first take tests to make sure their math and reading skills make them work-ready. It’s not unusual for someone who graduated years ago to need a brush-up in math or writing.
In addition to these certificates, SCAE offers two specialized programs for those thinking of a health-related career. The certified nursing assistant (CNA) program is an intense, 191-hour course that prepares students for this high-demand job. The direct support professional (DSP) certificate trains students to work with people with intellectual disabilities. It’s a blended class, with both face-to-face and online segments. (Students who don’t have their own Internet access are free to use an SCAE lab.) Both of these competitive classes will begin again in September. Both require proof of a high school diploma or GED.
The DSP program is one example of a school-business partnership undertaken by SCAE, Lampert said. Waban, which has between 75 and 100 DSP positions to fill each year, is working with the program to ensure a supply of fully trained workers. Other organizations SCAE is working with include Goodall Hospital, Sanford Institution for Savings, Manpower, Bonney Staffing, The Baker Company, Kennebunk Savings Bank, the Maine Career Center, and Goodwill. Representatives of some of these companies have provided direct support to students in resume preparation and interview skills.
Lampert said SCAE is hoping to expand its ties with even more companies as the year progresses. For example, he would like to have human resources departments refer job applicants to SCAE when their skills don’t meet companies’ needs.
Anyone who is interested in employment-related or academic classes should call SCAE at 490-5145 for more information. Orientation and pretesting will be held Sept. 4 to 6 for the CNA program and Sept. 25 for the DSP program.
Fall ESCP and academic classes will begin Sept. 10.