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Workforce training program sees high demand from workers seeking education for more skills and better pay

Sarah Smith loves the fast pace of the urgent care in Christiansburg, where she’s a medical assistant.

“It’s very busy, for sure,” Smith said.

Sarah Smith works as a medical assistant at an urgent care in Christiansburg. She has red hair, draped over her left shoulder. She's sitting near a window with bright orange light coming through the window shining on her hair. The look on her face could be relaxed, tired, content, or patient. There is a sense from seeing her that she has an inner strength that keeps her going.
Rachel Fogg
People Incorporated
Sarah Smith works as a medical assistant at an urgent care in Christiansburg.

A year ago, she didn’t have her certification, and the pay wasn’t enough to support her family. Then she heard about a career training program through a nonprofit called People Incorporated. They helped her get into a 10-week training program at New River Community College.

“The training is very, very fast paced. And so, you really have to be able to learn and focus,” Smith said. “It’s very intense.”

The number of people working across Virginia went up this year, according to the state’s employment commission. Some industries that are increasing their employment numbers are still struggling to find skilled workers, including healthcare workers, like Smith.

She passed her certification to become a licensed medical assistant and started earning more.

“I mean, literally my pay almost doubled,” Smith said.

Beth Carico, director of workforce development with People Inc., says this year, they’ve heard from hundreds of people looking for training.

“There is a huge demand for people wanting to access programs that can assist them with getting those certifications, getting the training that they need, so that they can be in positions that offer a sustainable wage for themselves and their families,” Carico said.

People Inc. group helps with transportation, childcare, and other barriers people face when going to school and looking for work. They’ve been helping people in southwest Virginia for years. This July, they expanded into the New River Valley, and Carico said they’re adding to their own workforce to be able to help more people next year.

More information and how to apply is at the People Inc. website.

Roxy Todd is Radio IQ's New River Valley Bureau Chief.