WIOA Program at SGTC Provides Federal Funds to Help Eligible Students Learn New Skills

Published 4:05 pm Thursday, February 23, 2023

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From Staff Reports

AMERICUS – The Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (WIOA) is a federal program established in 2014 to help serve laid-off individuals and income-eligible adults who need job skills training to enter or re-enter the workforce. For South Georgia Technical College students like Shannon Jones, the WIOA program helps with tuition, fees, books and direct training costs, allowing them to achieve their academic/training goals without a large financial burden.

Jones’ relationship with SGTC’s WIOA office began after her home’s air conditioning quit working a few summers ago. She called a friend for help – Johnny Griffin, the Air Conditioning Technology instructor at South Georgia Technical College. After repairing her unit, Griffin told Jones she should consider enrolling in his program. This conversation marked the beginning of an unexpected journey for Jones that will see her cross the stage this May to accept her diploma as a new graduate of the air conditioning program at SGTC.

SGTC Air Conditioning student Shannon Jones tests an AC unit while instructor Johnny Griffin looks on.
Photo by SGTC

Jones initially graduated from SGTC’s cosmetology program in 1999 but was unable to pursue that career path at the time due to her mother’s health. She eventually worked as a paraprofessional in the Macon County and Sumter County school systems serving students with special needs before developing her own health issues that forced her to step away.

Some time passed before her encounter with Griffin convinced Jones to pursue a new path.

After encouraging Jones to enroll in the air conditioning program, Griffin directed her to Sandhya Muljibhai, SGTC’s WIOA Coordinator. Muljibhai and WIOA Administrative Assistant Sarah Teal worked with Jones throughout her time in the air conditioning program to ensure she had the resources she needed to be successful and to track her progress toward completion.

Funds from WIOA covered most of the cost of returning to school for Jones. She will complete the program with no student debt. WIOA even covered the cost of tools Jones needed for her training that she can take with her into the air conditioning field.

Jones is grateful for the assistance from WIOA and for the relationships she forged working with Muljibhai and Teal. “They are wonderful,” Jones said. “They made it so easy. They’re like a family, that’s how I look at it. They’re like a family.”

Shannon Jones received federal financial assistance through the WIOA program at South Georgia Technical College and will graduate in May from the SGTC Air Conditioning Technology program.
Photo by SGTC

As Jones prepares for the next chapter of her life, she encourages other students to look into the WIOA program. “Go for it. It’s there for you, so why not take advantage of it?”

WIOA federal funds are made available through the WIOA Board and the River Valley Regional Commission. To qualify for the program, students must live in the Middle Flint Area 15 region of Crisp, Dooly, Macon, Marion, Schley, Sumter, Taylor, and Webster counties and meet other eligibility requirements.

For more information on WIOA and what areas of study qualify for the program, call the South Georgia Technical College WIOA office at (229) 931-2172.