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$2.5M job training grant to address local healthcare worker shortage

Grant to address Highland Lakes healthcare worker shortage

Workforce Solutions of Rural Capital Area has received a $2.5 million federal grant that will go toward educating and training individuals to enter the healthcare field and work in Burnet, Llano, and Blanco counties. iStock photo

A $2.5 million grant will go toward training people in health-related fields to address a shortage of healthcare workers in Burnet, Llano, and Blanco counties.

Workforce Solutions Rural Capital Area will receive the U.S. Department of Labor funding, it was announced Wednesday, Jan. 20.

“Historically, we’ve had a hard time getting sufficient training for people in this area,” said Paul Fletcher, chief executive officer of Workforce Solutions Rural Capital Area, which provides employment services to employers and job seekers in a nine-county region in Central Texas. “Given the funding we have with the grant, it gives us an opportunity to establish a (healthcare worker) pipeline. It’s very fulfilling. Our role is to provide the talent chain for people in this area. There are gaps. This helps to try to remedy those gaps.”

The grant money will be spread across four years.

“I’m thrilled and excited we’re able to bring this to those communities,” said Diane Tackett, WSRCA chief operations officer. “There’s still a lot of details to work out. The grant will help pay for tuition and training for those individuals looking to go into the healthcare profession.” 

The grant also will help:

  • develop healthcare jobs and training programs in rural communities;
  • create community workforce councils, secure partners, and coordinate workforce activities to prepare workers;
  • and use new technologies for training, including interactive simulations, personalized and virtual instruction, and digital tutors. 

Workforce Solutions Rural Capital Area is partnering with several post-secondary schools, organizations, and businesses in the Highland Lakes to address healthcare worker shortages.

These partners may provide classroom and meeting space, technology, and even computers for job hunts. 

Community Resource Centers of Texas is one of those partners.

“We’re excited and happy to be included,” Executive Director Donna Klaeger said.

Tackett said the hope is to have plans in place in time for fall semester 2021. 

Fletcher, who has lived in the Highland Lakes for more than two decades, said he was thrilled to be able to do this for his neighbors.

“It was the right opportunity in this area,” he said. “Healthcare isn’t an industry you can do offshore.”   

jfierro@thepicayune.com

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