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13,539 land stimulus jobs in Illinois in first quarter of 2011

Phlebotomist RosalindElzworks for Alverno Clinical Laboratories St. James Hospital — job she earned after receiving training federally funded program. |

Phlebotomist Rosalinda Elza works for Alverno Clinical Laboratories at St. James Hospital — a job she earned after receiving training in a federally funded program. | Jean Lachat~Sun-Times

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Updated: May 9, 2012 9:33AM



Sauk Village resident Rosalinda Elza had been unemployed for two years since being laid off from her job as a customer service agent.

But joblessness is now a thing of the past for the 40-year-old mother of three, thanks to her completion of a health care job training program funded with federal stimulus money.

Elza is among 13,539 people in Illinois and 571,383 nationally who received jobs in the first quarter of this year as a result of federal stimulus funding, according to the Obama administration’s website Recovery.gov.

Congressional Republicans have criticized the American Recovery and Investment Act citing the continuing high unemployment rate, which now stands at 9.1 percent. But the Obama administration has maintained the stimulus program, which is winding down, has helped save jobs and create new ones and prevented an economic depression.

As of the end of May, $649.5 billion of the $787 billion in federal stimulus funds available have been paid out in tax benefits, contracts, grants and loans and to entitlement programs, including unemployment insurance programs and Medicaid grants to states.

This year, the Congressional Budget Office estimates 900,000 to 2.7 million people nationally will have landed jobs as a result of the federal stimulus program. The CBO estimates 1.3 million to 3.3 million people got jobs last year nationally due to stimulus funds. The CBO report does not provide full-year job creation estimates by state.

In Illinois, $11.5 billion in stimulus funds were awarded from February 2009 through March 2011, including grants, loans and contracts, according to Recovery.gov.

Elza, who works as a phlebotomist for Alverno Clinical Laboratories assigned at St. James Hospital in Chicago Heights, received training through a $4.9 million health care career training program funded by a grant awarded to University Park-based Governors State University last year.

The program provides training and placement services to unemployed, dislocated, disabled and low-wage workers. Participants can be trained as medical technicians, which includes learning phlebotomy, or how to draw blood; perform EKGs and work as certified nurse assistants, said program director Robert Bliese. The program, which works with community partners, including Robert Morris University, the YWCA and the CAAN Academy of Nursing, also provides training to prepare participants to become licensed practical nurses. And program partner SouthStar Services helps train developmentally disabled individuals to work as home health aides.

In January, Elza completed training as a medical patient care technician. She landed her job in February after performing hands-on training at St. James. She feels more secure working in the health care industry, she said, noting, “The medical field is going to go a long ways. If you’re looking for a job and you have skills, there’s employment out there.”

Bliese, director of the program, called Health Care Jobs for Chicago Southland, notes to date of 63 unemployed people who received vocational training through the three-year grant program, 54 have landed jobs. Roughly 188 people are currently enrolled in various phases of the program, which also includes soft skills training and financial counseling, he added.

Major job growth is expected in the health care industry, and the program seeks to prepare participants to take advantage of that growth, Bliese said. The Labor Department has forecast the industry will generate 3.2 million new jobs between 2008 and 2018, more than any other industry.

For more information and to apply for the program, visit www.govst.edu/DOLgrant.



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