Job training program is ‘FastPath’ to career change

Even as the overall economy continues to slowly strengthen, many people are still struggling. Some are unemployed, others are underemployed. Columbus, Ohio, residents in those categories now have a new tool at their disposal: FastPath.

FastPath is a collaboration between the City of Columbus, Columbus State Community College, with help from COWIC, designed to help working-aged adults quickly upgrade skills to qualify for available jobs. The program only takes about a month to complete, and there are four career tracks.

Angela Brock, 44, is one of the program’s first participants. She has always dreamed of working in a hospital helping patients. Now she’s doing just that at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

“I would eventually like to get into a full-time position here and work toward my degree,” said Brock, who was in the first class of FastPath graduates in December 2014. “I think it’s really needed, just being a single mom. [And since it’s free] there are no student loans, so that too was important to me because I wasn’t able to just financially go back to school so it worked out well.”

On the right track

Funded by a $1.5 million grant from the City of Columbus, FastPath trains students in four to five weeks.

Angela was in the patient-care track. It teaches the fundamentals of patient care and provides a State Tested Nursing Assistant (STNA) certification — a recognized credential in healthcare careers.

Another recent patient-care graduate is Ophylia Washington, 51. She’s also working at Nationwide Children’s Hospital now.

“There are a lot of people who may be looking for work or maybe looking to change careers and it’s a stepping stone,” Washington said. “It’s quick, it’s fast, you can get through it and get what you need and get right into the marketplace.”

Nationwide Children’s Hospital was a pilot employer for the FastPath program and provided support during the first graduation ceremony in December 2014.

Speaking to graduates, the hospital’s Dr. Kelly Kelleher said: “The neighborhoods are the best predictor of the health of our families. And to have healthy neighborhoods, we have to have well-trained and educated parents who are working successfully in the community. It’s not enough for health institutions to have big towers. We have to be out there working with partners making things happen in the community.”

David Harrison, president of Columbus State, added, “I don’t call these kinds of events graduation ceremonies. These are commencement ceremonies. Graduation is an end, commencement is a beginning. So you need to look at today as a beginning.”

Other options

In addition to the patient-care track with its STNA certification, there are three other options:

  • Building services provides an OSHA certification and teaches students how to clean, maintain and restore floor coverings found in commercial and medical settings.
  • Logistics students earn a certified logistics associate certificate and learn what’s involved in receiving, packing, shipping and processing orders.
  • Food services students earn a ServSafe certification, an industry standard in food preparation and safety.

Brien Miller, 26, is in the food service business and signed up for the food-services track and got a raise in the process.

“I was really excited because it’s my dream to become a fully qualified chef so I figured this would be a leg up,” he said.

Miller was already working as a team member at Hot Chicken Takeover in Columbus’ North Market when he found out about FastPath and jumped in to further his career.

“It’s a great program,” he said. “If you are interested in food services, say you want to become a chef or you just want to get a leg up in whatever restaurant you’re working at, I’d say this is the program for you because it teaches you a lot of valuable things.”

His employer was on board as well.

“It gives people an opportunity to move up quickly in restaurants,” said Cam Williams, general manager of Hot Chicken Takeover. “When Brien went through the FastPath program he became ServSafe certified, so it gave him confidence and knowledge about food and food safety. We were able to give him a pay raise because he’s already working a lot better in the kitchen.”

The FastPath program is fast becoming a new way for unemployed — and underemployed residents in Columbus — to retool their careers, and their lives.

New graduate Ophylia Washington sums it up: “It helped me get my confidence back up and be marketable to get that job at Children’s. When you don’t have to worry about the costs it takes a load off of your mind and you can concentrate. If I could do it, anybody can do it.”

For more information about the FastPath program, call 614-559-5052

Article originally posted on Community College Daily