Hoosiers can get a high school diploma, brush up on their career skills, or learn a new skillset, at no cost through the Center of Workforce Innovations (CWI) Adult Learning Centers.
All throughout Northwest Indiana, the CWI Adult Learning Centers continue to aid Hoosiers who want to improve themselves and move on to post-secondary education or find a fulfilling career. There are 15 Adult Learning sites in the region. CWI also collaborates with the East Chicago Schools, Hammond Career Center, Michigan City Schools, and the Merrillville Adult Learning Center to offer classes at those venues.
“We offer free classes to help our students prepare for the High School Equivalency exam,” explained Kitty Meyer, the adult education manager. “The HSE exam, which used to be called GED, provides Hoosiers with the high school diploma requirements they need for many available jobs.”
Under normal circumstances, there is a fee for the HSE exam. Since these are hardly normal times, the state has waived the exam fees through the remainder of the year. That means every Hoosier can get their high school diploma free of charge.
Classes offered for the HSE preparation include math, reading, English, and writing. “There are basic courses for the exam, and there are more advanced courses for those who want to further their job opportunities,” Meyer said.
Classes are offered in-person at the Hammond and Portage WorkOne centers, and are adhering to CDC protocols to maximize safety of students and teachers. All locations are offering remote classes via Zoom, the video app that connects everyone on the call.
“Some students want to conduct their classes in-person,” Meyer said. “We understand and support that choice. We also use technology to provide remote learning so that the current pandemic does not have to stop students who have dreams. In-person is somewhat limited, but we’re constantly working to expand our options.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate in Indiana sits at about eight percent, much higher than pre-COVID statistics. Acquiring the state HSE can help job seekers by opening additional opportunities where a high school diploma is a requirement.
“We begin with a skill assessment for each student,” Meyer said. “We help you figure out what you need in order to do well on the test. Since everyone’s story is different, we work with you one-on-one to figure out your current situation and where to begin.”
Part of the assessment step is an introductory test that covers basic math and English skills. “Many of our students are nervous because it’s the first test they’ve taken in a while,” Meyer said. “But it gives us a starting point so we can dive right into what you need.”
The teachers go above and beyond to make a connection with each student. “We understand the concerns people have,” Meyer said. “Some people feel out of place in a learning environment. Our teachers are enthusiastic and dedicated to helping make you feel comfortable and confident.”
Meyer said that many students could complete the classes in 2-3 months, depending on how much remedial work they need and how many hours they can dedicate to the classes. “For those who need more extensive help, we work with them on their calendar availability,” she said. “We encourage students to dedicate 12-15 hours weekly, but we also understand that some have more challenging time conflicts.”
For those who already have a high school diploma but want to increase their marketability, the CWI Adult Learning Centers offer programs such as MedCerts and SERV Safe.
MedCerts is an online education program where students can receive education and certification for a medical career. Certifications available include dental and medical assistant, office administration, veterinary assistant, health unit and medication care coordinator, and much more.
“MedsCert classes are not free through normal channels,” Meyer said. “But we provide these certification classes free of charge to our students. It’s an incredible opportunity to learn a skillset that puts you on the path to a new and rewarding career.”
SERV Safe is a set of food handler’s certifications. A food handler is defined as a person who works in a food facility and performs any duties that involve the preparation, storage or service of food. Certifications include food, alcohol, allergens, and workplace environment.
“Our teachers can help you be prepared for exams in these occupations,” Meyer said. “The state has been very dedicated to helping Hoosiers better themselves.”
For those that need to better understand our language, English Language Learner (ELL) classes are available. “In our diverse communities, we don’t want language to be a barrier,” Meyer said. “We can help students learn and understand English so that they can find a job and improve themselves.”
Whether you’re looking to get a High School Equivalency diploma, brush up on math, reading, and writing, or learn English, a CWI Adult Learning Center is a good first step.
For further information on CWI Adult Learning Centers, call John Schlatter, Adult Education Assistant Manager at 219.462.2940, ext. 1040 or at email@example.com — Visit www.cwicorp.com/adult-learning-center or www.facebook.com/adulteducationnwi