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Workforce Development Centers Offers Language Classes and Training for Healthcare Jobs
July 31, 2023

The Cultural & Linguistic Workforce Development Centers, a joint venture between St. Luke’s University Health Network (SLUHN) and the Hispanic Center Lehigh Valley, has been designed to assist workers at any stage in their career path to train for and access employment opportunities. The Centers will be offering English classes, General Education Development (GED) and specialized training in a number of healthcare positions starting this fall.

The Centers will operate at Hispanic Center Lehigh Valley (HCLV) in South Side Bethlehem and SLUHN’s Sacred Heart Campus in Center City Allentown. Services will be offered to program participants in collaboration with Lehigh Carbon Community College (LCCC), Northampton Community College (NCC), and The Literacy Center. Additionally, Workforce Board Lehigh Valley is co-located at St. Luke’s Sacred Heart site and participants can be referred as needed.

Victoria Montero, Executive Director of the Hispanic Center, said, “The Workforce Development Centers are providing the Lehigh Valley community the opportunity to train for high-priority skilled occupations in healthcare while learning employability skills and developing a career ladder for professional growth.”

Participants will work with bilingual (Spanish and English) Workforce Development Coordinators to identify career goals and barriers to employment.  Participants will create individualized action plans to complete English as a Second Language (ESL) and/or GED programs through community partner organizations. Starting this fall, participants also can enroll in programs that could lead to jobs as phlebotomist, nurse’s aide, dental assistant, emergency medical technician, community health worker, EKG technician and pharmacy technician.

“The programs are 12 to 20 weeks, so participants can get educated quickly and be qualified for jobs that are not only important to the health of the community but also rewarding,” said Lauren Loeffler, Workforce Development/Community Education and Dean at NCC.

“This program is important to St. Luke’s because it will develop a pipeline of qualified, bilingual healthcare workers,” said Dr. Rajika Reed, Vice President of St. Luke’s Community Health.  “These efforts will also market the region to diverse, motivated individuals looking to relocate as they know there are established trainings and employment opportunities,” she said.  

Classes will be held at sites in Bethlehem and Allentown. The Bethlehem classes will be held at NCC, while classes in Allentown will be held at St. Luke’s Sacred Heart Campus, LCCC and The Literacy Center.

“The Literacy Center has been providing ESL classes since 1977 and we look forward to continuing to provide these classes at St. Luke’s Sacred Heart,” said Jennifer Doyle, Executive Director.

“Lehigh Carbon Community College is very much looking forward to participating in this partnership to help train students for healthcare careers,” said Jennifer Leach, Job Training Healthcare Specialist at LCCC. Healthcare is a growing field and in high demand, Leach noted. “According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment in healthcare occupations is projected to grow 13 percent from 2021-2031.” 

The program is funded by a $450,000 grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Community and Economic Development. Participants must meet Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) eligibility requirements. There will be a small fee for the trainings which can be paid in full or through a payment plan.

Anyone interested in participating can fill out a survey at https://redcap.slhn.org/surveys/?s=XEYCNPR3MAX9KDME or contact the Hispanic Center Lehigh Valley at 610-868-7800, extension 225 or hclvinfo@hclv.org or St. Luke’s Sacred Heart Campus in Allentown, 484-658-4603 or community.health@sluhn.org.