OVERLAND PARK – The U.S. Department of Labor has awarded almost $2.9 million to Johnson County Community College to create and expand education programs in health information technology systems.
The grant was given as part of the H1-B Technical Skills Training Grant Competition, which awarded more than $159 million in funds to 20 states and the District of Columbia.
The grants are funded through fees paid by employers to bring foreign workers into the United States under the H-1B program. The grants are intended to raise the technical skill levels of American workers and, over time, help businesses reduce their need to use the H-1B program.
The demand for professionals trained in both health care and information technology is expected to grow as the health care industry transitions to digital records. (The HITECH act of 2009 mandates every U.S. citizen have an electronic health record.)
Previously, JCCC received funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (2009) to implement two components of health information technology workforce training. The resulting pilot program was Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH).
Initially funded were two components of a multi-component program: Health Information Systems Specialist and Health Information Redesign Specialist.
Part of the $2.9 million will be used to strengthen and expand the existing two HITECH components. Another part will fund the creation and implementation of two other components: implementation support specialist and training.
Darcy McGrath, director, grants leadership and development, said the $2.9 million will be used to develop and sustain a statewide training network (Kansas Health Information Systems Training Network), train underemployed workers with updated job skills and train unemployed workers with new skills to enter HIT systems careers. The funds also will provide job placement assistance in the HIT systems occupations in partnership with Hutchinson Community College and Kansas Workforce Investment Boards.
“We are extremely excited about this opportunity to enhance and expand what we’re currently doing,” McGrath said. “The career opportunities in this field are wide open, and we look forward to doing even more in the health information technology field.”