Panola Grant

A $206,323 grant from the Texas Workforce Commission is helping Panola College expand its dual-credit certified nurse aide to Marion County.

A $206,323 grant from the Texas Workforce Commission is helping Panola College expand its dual-credit certified nurse aide to Marion County.

The skills development fund grant has been used to buy equipment to fund two dual-credit nurse aide classrooms at Jefferson ISD, meaning students in the district can work towards becoming a certified nurse aide while still in high school. The college has 10 such high school classrooms throughout its service area.

“We would not have had the quality of equipment that we were able to purchase without the grant,” Whitney McBee, director of workforce and continuing education at Panola College, said. “We were able to purchase equipment that is just like what you would see in the nursing home or in the nursing facilities, so it really does make a difference for the hands-on training that they will receive.”

Texas Workforce Commission Chair and Commissioner Representing Employers Ruth R. Hughs presented a check to college officials in a ceremony this past Friday, saying she was excited the funding would be used to provide skills and job training in health care — an area with a high, growing demand. Six of the top projected, fastest-growing jobs are related to health care, and home-health care services alone is going to grow by 44 percent by 2026, Hughs said.

The state is “looking at putting more resources into our schools and reaching out to our youth sooner so that they can find out about the jobs in high demand,” Hughs said. “We’re continuing to grow, and we want to make sure students really given themselves opportunities to consider areas where we know that they’re going to have a job and a career and make a wonderful living.”

Billy “Bubba” Adams, vice president of instruction at Panola College, said Friday career and workforce education programs can be expensive, so grants like this help tremendously. He said the college was elated by the news.

“When we’re asked by schools to provide things, sometimes we’re not able to because we don’t have the resources,” he said. “Things like this make it available for us to do it not this year but continuing that for year after year.”