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Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis, Sen. Patty Murray tour Bellevue College, discuss $11.8 million grant

Stacy Cube, a Washington, D.C., native who has worked in human resources for the past 10 years, saw her career start to suffer when her husband's army job forced them to move every couple of years. So she enrolled in the radiology technology program Bellevue College to learn skills she could use to find jobs more easily following the moves.

That's exactly the sort of person that the U.S. Department of Labor plans to help through an $11.8 million grant to Bellevue College to start a health IT apprenticeship and career services program. The program will involved more than 2,000 participants and help from eight other colleges.

The goal is to help fill the "skills gap" between businesses looking to hire trained workers and unemployed people looking for jobs, Sen. Patty Murray said following a tour of the health information technology program facilities at BC on Friday with US Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "Jobs are open, but people are not skilled in the right place," Murray said. "Business people are looking at education folks to fill that skills gap."

Solis also emphasized program's usefulness. "Healthcare is recession proof," she said, "and it's going to continue as we move out the Affordable Healthcare Act."

She credited Murray and President Barack Obama for the grant's passage.

"I don't do this alone," she said. "I can only do as much as my senators and congresspeople. That's where the purse strings are."

This grant - the largest the college has received in its nearly 50-year history - is part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training program, a $2 billion division of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

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