KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Even months after hair salons reopened following a temporary closure at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Heather Coleman’s business has not recovered.
“I’m actually at about a quarter of the pay I used to be at,” Coleman, a hairstylist, admitted. “That’s actually why I was looking into getting more training.”
Now Coleman is one test away from earning a medical billing and coding certification. She received free skills training from the NewSkills program at Community Services League’s WorkLife Center at BlendWell Cafe.
Since 2016, the nonprofit based in Independence, Missouri, has offered free training in medical and construction careers.
“We see a lot of our graduates are almost instantly doubling their household income. They’re going from minimum wage jobs to in-demand careers,” explained Doug Cowan, president and CEO of Community Services League.
Going into 2022, Cowan is prepared to see the largest enrollment in the program’s history.
Coleman’s husband is among the clients already signed up for programs next year.
Donations from KC Scholars and Truman Heartland Community Foundation, among others, help cover the costs.
Along with helping clients earn required certifications, Community Services League assists participants with rent and utility payments, transportation, childcare, resumé-building, mock interviews and more.
“We do everything we can to our participants to really wrap them and insulate them in support with whatever they need,” Cowan said.
Coleman is thankful for the assistance. She plans to participate in a mock interview since she hasn’t had a true job interview in at least 10 years.
Community Services League reports 90 percent of the graduates who stay in touch with the agency said they earn more money now than before the training. Looking at just the graduates who live in Independence, they earn on average $14,000 more per year.
Coleman looks forward to finding a stable career once she passes her certification exam.
“It will impact my family huge, that’s number one. My son, actually he is autistic. He likes regiments. For me to be home in the evenings will be huge,” she explained.
To apply for skills training, visit the program’s website. Anyone in the Kansas City metropolitan area is eligible to participate, no matter which side of the state line.