Alamo Colleges apprenticeship program helps launch health care careers

Alamo Colleges apprenticeship program helps launch health care careers


Marina Juarez spent four years working at San Antonio’s state-supported living center, caring for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Later, she had a job at a nursing home but didn’t see a clear career path for herself.

While taking courses at Alamo Colleges the 28-year-old learned about an apprenticeship program with Methodist Healthcare through one of her professors and decided to apply. The six-week program resulted in Juarez getting a job as a patient care technician at Methodist Hospital, allowing her to better support her daughter.

“I didn’t grow up on that richer side, so bills are a touchy subject,” Juarez said. “The program was life-changing for me, one of those things that is too good to be true, and then it all started falling into place. I was able to put money down to live in a new place … I have a 4-year-old, so I am able to afford everything for her. “

Alamo Colleges’ apprenticeship program with Methodist launched in March 2020 after the community college system won a U.S. Department of Labor Closing the Skills Gap grant, which aims to expand the workforce in the healthcare, manufacturing, and information technology industries.

The $1 million grant allowed Alamo Colleges to create a four-year program centered around workplace job experience for talented low-income students who are currently unemployed or underemployed. Methodist Hospital was one of the first employer applicants that offered to host program participants and provide the necessary on-the-job training. 

Alamo Colleges’ decision to focus the apprenticeship on the health care industry resulted in large part from the coronavirus pandemic, said Verne Futagawa, the grant project director at Alamo Colleges. Throughout the pandemic, the demand for health care workers increased significantly, and the college system saw an opportunity.

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