Free program aims to provide new work opportunities for unemployed hospitality workers

A free training program to help unemployed restaurant and retail workers get back into the workforce has been created and it may help solve an area problem of finding employees to fill elderly in-home care jobs.

The program will allow participants to undergo a two- or three-week training session and clinical to learn how to provide in-home care for the elderly and the disabled followed by a virtual job fair.

“This initiative is an enormous opportunity for individuals to apply the skills they have developed in the restaurant and hospitality industry into the growing field of home care. The opportunity to help others, while making money in a flexible working environment of the home are the rewards of the training,” said executive director of Area Agency on Aging Doug McGarry.

Kathy Stevens developed the program while she was serving a Del Mar Encore fellowship at the Dayton Foundation.

In her fellowship that began in August 2019, Stevens was responsible for investigating the shortage in personal care aides and found retention, recruitment and training were major obstacles. And then the pandemic hit and Stevens saw the huge impact it had on the local workforce.

“It really struck me how many people were out of work and restaurants were hit really hard and how many of them were out of work. At the same time, I’m working the issues of not having enough personal care aides and people being challenged because they’re at home without help,” she said.

Stevens said she thought back to a conversation she had with McGarry last year about finding solutions. “He thought that restaurant workers and people that are used to dealing with people and handling a variety of situations would be very well suited for that.”

The training sessions will be conducted by the Ohio Medical Career College, Elite STNA training, and the Nursing Training Center. The goal Stevens said is to provide employment for 100 people through the federally funded training program and “either to change their job for good, or even if its just during the pandemic, or probably more realistically they might do both when the pandemic is over.”

Those living in Champaign, Clark, Darke, Greene, Logan, Miami, Montgomery, Preble, and Shelby counties are encouraged to apply through the Area Agency on Aging’s website or by contacting Stevens directly. “We’re trying to make it as easy as possible if somebody hears about it and wants more information to get it out to them,” Stevens said.

The training sessions will continue through September 2021 when the Dayton Foundation and the Area Agency on Aging will decide if this is a more permanent fix to the shortage.

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