Wake Tech program helps unemployed find work

April 24, 2013 2:45:50 PM PDT
North Carolina's unemployment rate continues to be higher than the national average. Tens of thousands of people in our state are still looking for jobs post-recession.

However, a course at Wake Tech Community College is giving people the skills they need to get back into the workforce and fast.

Wilbur Brinkley lives at the men's shelter. He's homeless and been out of work for months now after leaving his job in customer service.

"It's a step forward," said Brinkley.

It's a similar story for Larry Washington.

"I had a good job. Lost a job. They laid me off actually," said Washington.

Now, a new partnership between the men's shelter and Wake Tech aims to put them back to work through a comprehensive, short-term hospitality training program.

The course, which is open to anyone, provides all the necessary skills and certifications to land jobs at places like hotels and restaurants.

"These people are ready to go," said Wake Tech's Sameer Pawa. "They are trained. You will save money by hiring them."

The latest employment numbers show leisure and hospitality services added more than 20,000 jobs in North Carolina since March 2012. That's the largest jump of any major industry, and many new hotels and restaurants are popping up in the Triangle. They all need trained workers.

"I've had anywhere from 65-70 percent of students who graduate from this program actually get hired within two weeks of graduating from this class," said Pawa.

Kai Khongphan is one of those graduates. She was hired almost immediately by the Sheraton Raleigh hotel and now specializes in in-house reservations.

"It's not just a job," said Khongphan. "You can make your career with the hospitality industry."

Washington looks forward to starting his new career too.

"I've learned a lot, said Washington."It's something I'm interested in. I know I'll be good at it."

School officials said some of the people taking the class were offered jobs before even finishing the program.

The next course starts May 6 at Wake Tech. It is $300 per person.

Click here for more details on the program.

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