AP NEWS

Nonprofit helps expand job opportunities through more vocational training

July 9, 2018 GMT

Northwest Assistance Ministries is working to expand job opportunities for northwest Harris County residents by providing vocational training.

The nonprofit opened a new workforce training center, The Harrell Family Opportunity Center, which is located directly behind the nonprofit’s main building.

Northwest Assistance Ministries has already trained 30 people at the new building, held several vocational training class graduations and a holiday job fair.

This year, 70 residents have received scholarships to study various programs at Northwest Assistance Ministries and at Lone Star College.

Vocational training offered through the nonprofit include a certified nursing assistant, a sterile processing technician, administrative professional, as well as the study of English as a second language.

“Providing the opportunity to train for a new career after the job you have held ends, or has stalled, can be life changing,” said Shannel Vance, a spokeswoman with NAM. “Our clients know that the job market is changing and that many jobs are disappearing. They also know that they need to obtain new skills or modify their skill set in order to switch careers.”

“However, some lack the financial resources to access the training they need to reach that goal,” Vance said. “These scholarships for vocational training programs can open the door to more than a job —they offer the chance to start a new career.”

Northwest Assistance Ministries also offers preparation for taking the General Educational Development tests, financial literacy classes and job search assistance.

Northwest Houston continues to see job expansion as new developments abound in the region. Job growth has been strong in health care, education and hospitality, said Kelly Violette, president of the Tomball Economic Development Corp.

The region has experienced a population boom that has followed business growth. The area is still working to catch up with the changes that come with thousands of new residents, including new schools, expanding colleges, growing health care options and an ever expanding retail, restaurant and hotel market.

NAM started construction last August of its $5.37 million retail and training center to help the area’s growing needy population.

Many residents currently work in jobs that are only paying minimum wage. The new training facility will expand NAM’s reach in providing area residents with job training, including certifications, to help them earn a livable wage, move out of poverty and into more stable lives.

In addition, the program will fill gaps in the workforce.

NAM works closely with businesses to determine area workforce needs, and continuously researches additional job training needs through contacts with local employers.

The workforce gap is often in the middle-skill level jobs, which pay a more livable wage and include health benefits.

“Houston, like many cities, has a skills gap,” Vance said. “There are many middle skill jobs that go unfilled because the workforce needs to be trained for the jobs that are in demand today.

“Workers today need to realize that they will need to be trained and retrained many times over their working life to be able to have a financially stable career,” Vance said.

The Northwest Assistance Ministries workforce and training center is located at 15555 Kuykendahl Road, behind NAM’s headquarters building.