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Free Computer Courses Offered for Displaced Workers
(Delaware and Chester Counties, PA, March 9, 2012)—Displaced ConocoPhillips refinery workers Ralph Griffith and Fred Chazin are spending many hours these days learning computer skills free of charge, compliments of Delaware County Community College, PA CareerLink®, and the Delaware County Workforce Investment Board.
“This has been absolutely great,” said Chazin, 59, vice president of the United Steelworkers Union Local 10-234. He worked for ConocoPhillips for 38 years, most of the time in warehouse and industry control.
Chazin and Griffith, 57, who worked at the refinery for 23 years, most recently offloading oil from ships and trains, were so impressed by the caliber of the “Computer Basics” classes that they have signed up for the next set of classes, “Resumes with Microsoft Word.”
“It’s been 38 years since I had to fill out a resume,” said Chazin of Springfield.
“I’m looking forward to the advanced class,” said Griffith of Trainer, adding that the classes have helped take the fear out of computing for him.
Both computer courses are held at the Union Hall, 1520 Chichester Avenue in Linwood.
The free computer courses are just one of many ways that Delaware County Community College is seeking to help dislocated ConocoPhillips and Sunoco workers receive training that will enable them to improve their skills, seek new careers and rebound from being laid-off.
The College’s 12-hour Computer Basics course provides instruction on the hardware components of the computer, how to use a mouse, Windows navigation, storage, printing and the Internet. Students learn how to create an email address, tools and techniques associated with email, online job search and how to post a resume online. Classes are from 8 a.m. to 12 noon, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, Feb. 28 through April 5.
The College’s 12-hour Resumes with Microsoft Word course—the next step up from the Computer Basics class—teaches students how to use Microsoft Word to create and customize a resume and cover letter. Students learn the fundamentals of Microsoft Word, including templates, storage, fonts, margins, attaching a file to an email, printing envelopes and labels, and how to write an effective cover letter. Classes are held from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, Feb. 28 through April 5.
Funding for the computer classes is provided by the Delaware County Workforce Investment Board. Delaware County Community College set up the computers and is providing computer instructors Tim Maguire, Nancy White and Gene Riordan to do the training. Pennsylvania CareerLink®, a state agency that offers job search, vocational assessment, career guidance and training to unemployed or displaced workers, is providing job search help through a contract with Educational Data Systems Inc. (EDSI), a workforce development and training company which has staff at the Union Hall providing career counseling and job placement services.
Starting in April, the College also plans to offer free financial literacy courses at the Union Hall to the displaced workers and their spouses, compliments of a grant from the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania.
In addition to the free computer training and financial literacy courses, the College also has enrolled nine refinery workers in its wastewater operator certification program, an open enrollment workforce training course held at the College’s Marple campus, and the College has helped dislocated refinery workers apply for apprenticeship opportunities with Aker Philadelphia Shipyard, a shipbuilding company at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. The College provides a three-year apprenticeship training program under an agreement with Aker.
Later this year, the College also will launch a free career training program for displaced and underemployed workers that will offer instruction in the high-demand fields of electronic medical records, advanced manufacturing and energy (photovoltaic, geothermal and building analysis). This new program is part of a $20 million effort by all 14 of the state’s community colleges to provide skills training in as little as one year that will lead to students receiving industry-recognized certification. The state’s community colleges are providing the training through the “Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College Career Training” (TAACCCT) program, which is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. TAACCCT is administered by the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Education.
“Any assistance Delaware County Community College or the state’s CareerLink can offer is greatly appreciated,” United Steelworkers Local 10-234 President Denis Stephano said. “It’s sort of foolish for people not to take advantage of this, if they have the time and inclination.”
Displaced refinery workers interested in the College’s free computer training courses and people interested in enrolling in the TAACCCT program should call 610-723-4095.