Piedmont Tech, Goodwill expand CNA training partnership

Goodwill Industries and Piedmont Technical College are expanding a highly successful partnership that trains certified nursing assistants.

The program, which began in 2012 in Greenwood, is now also being offered in Laurens and Newberry.

“We’re very pleased with how the program has progressed,” said Rusty Denning, associate vice president for economic development and continuing education  at PTC.

So far, 203 students have successfully passed the certification exam to become CNAs. The program’s success rate is 90 percent, well above the statewide goal of 80 percent and the actual statewide average of 72 percent.

“That pass rate is really unheard of,” said Michelle Neeley, director of industry training programs with Goodwill Industries of the Upstate/Midlands South Carolina. “We’re extremely happy working with Piedmont Tech.”

Each class consists of eight students and lasts four weeks. It includes classroom instruction and 40 hours of supervised clinical training.

Goodwill covers the cost of the class and provides each student with a set of scrubs, stethoscope, blood pressure cuff and access to textbooks. It also covers the cost of drug/TB screenings, background checks and the certification exam.

“They also have a job fair for students at graduation,” said Deborah Hoffman, PTC’s health care program manager. “The placement rate is very high.”

That’s not surprising, since CNAs are in demand right now. Nationwide, the field is expected to grow by 17 percent between 2014-24. Of the seven different types of certification programs offered locally by Goodwill, health care training is the most popular, according to Neeley.

In South Carolina, nursing assistants make an average of $24,590 per year. As of May 2016, there were more than 20,000 nursing assistants working in South Carolina.

CNAs are a critical part of the health care system. They provide basic care for clients and patients in a number of environments, from hospitals to nursing homes and adult day care facilities.

“CNA is a good, entry-level way to get into the health care field,” Denning said. “Piedmont Technical College is glad to be able to team up with Goodwill to provide this opportunity.”

To participate in the program, prospective students must be at least 18 years old, possess a high school diploma or GED, pass background/drug/TB screening, and demonstrate work-ready math and reading levels, among other requirements. Prospective students must also write a brief essay describing themselves, their familiarity with the health care industry, and any challenges they may face in meeting their career goals.

Classes begin at various times throughout the year and are held at PTC’s Newberry Campus, the Laurens County Higher Education Center and the Lex Walters Campus V Building in Greenwood. Clinical training takes place at J.F. Hawkins nursing home in Newberry, Clinton Presbyterian Community, and Wesley Commons retirement community in Greenwood.

To learn more, it’s recommended that prospective students attend orientation at the Goodwill Job Connection location at 1306 Montague Ave. in Greenwood. There’s a new session at 9 a.m. every Friday in which attendees can learn about all the training programs offered by Goodwill.

“In 2016, we put around 11,000 people back to work in competitive industries across our 16-county footprint,” Neeley said. “We couldn’t do it without partners like Piedmont Tech.”