Bellevue College students and military veterans looking for work training in healthcare informatics and technology will benefit from a new $11.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor.
Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) visited Bellevue College Friday to congratulate the participating colleges on the grant.
Solis said that retraining workers and military veterans to be ready for the workplace is a priority of Pres. Barack Obama, who appointed her.
"He wanted to make it a priority to have more people trained up and ready to go, meaning that we're going to try to push out more credentials," she said.
"It's not just now teaching for the sake of getting a credential, it's what's the value of that credential. Where is it going to lead in a career and in the long term?"
Bellevue College is heading the consortium of nine colleges -- seven others in Washington and one in Northern Virginia -- that will use the money to train more than 1,700 students in this state in healthcare informatics and technology -- a field that Bellevue College abbreviates as health IT.
Bellevue College, as the leader of the Health e-Workforce Consortium, will receive $6.3 million of the grant, said Paula Boyum, college vice president Economic & Workforce Development.
The grant comes from the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training program, which focuses on workers who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own and assisting military veterans and their spouses, according to a press release.
"I know how difficult it can be for vets returning to civilian life to make that transition, and I know how important it is for our vets to have transferable skills to help them as they make that move from military to civilian life," said Pam Charney, program chair of Healthcare Technology & Management, and herself a military veteran. "There's no better way to thank veterans for their service to their country than to set them up for future success."
The materials created by the consortium will be available for other colleges nationwide to use to train even more people, according to a press release.
Health information technology is a field that focuses on the computerization of health records, such as patient information and other health data. The field is growing and according to estimates by the American Medical Informatics Association, it will take as many as 200,000 workers to satisfy the projected job market demand nationwide, with thousands of positions in Washington state.
According to Wes Wright, Chief Information Officer, Seattle Children's Hospital official who came to the event, the hospital had 30 to 40 advertised and open positions in health informatics open. He and several generations of his family, including his daughter, have served in the military, he added.
“This grant will do so much to help our returning veterans and others in our state learn the skills they need to get these good-paying jobs so they can support themselves and their families,” said Interim President Laura Saunders in a prepared statement. “It’s also a win for health care providers and other companies who need qualified workers in this field.”
This fall quarter, Bellevue College launched a health informatics and technology bachelor's degree program, which is the college's third bachelor degree program offered.
Health e-Workforce ConsortiumCollege, location, grant amount Bellevue College (Lead & Member) Bellevue, WA $6,365,057 Bellingham Technical College Bellingham, WA $643,796 Clark College Vancouver, WA $542,266 Clover Park Technical College Tacoma, WA $602,142 Pierce College Tacoma, WA $571,459 Renton Technical College Renton, WA $751,429 Spokane Community College Spokane, WA $754,109 Whatcom Community College Bellingham, WA $531,281 Northern Virginia Community College Annandale, VA $1,013,758
-- Source, U.S. Department of Labor