By Mike Schuh

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A partnership between a local nonprofit and a biotech institute means a tuition-free program for adult learners in Baltimore that could lead to a job — or even more.

The South Baltimore Learning Center (SBLC), which offers classes to adult learners, is now partnering with the BioTechnical Institute of Maryland (BTI) to help those wanting an entry-level job as a lab technician.

This free job training program will help people with gaps in their education find a possible career path.

The class, led by instructor Wayne Butscher, may look like a college bio-chem lab, but instead its a hands-on training program through BTI, located west of downtown Baltimore.

Two dozen students just began a nine-week course to learn how to be a lab technician.

“From what our graduates have told us, they are even  more prepared that the two-year of four-year graduate,” said Leslie Prewitt, who works with the program.

Brittany Jones’ last job in banking left her living paycheck to paycheck.

Jones, 28, learned about the program at a career fair.

“It took me all the way back to high school and it was refreshing,” she said of the course.

But when she took the tests, Jones didn’t meet the scores to get in.

“I took the tests, but didn’t meet the scores to get in,” she said.

A placement test is required to enter the program.

Jones needed to brush up on her math.

That’s where the SBLC came in.

“If they fail those tests they’ll send them to the SBLC where we’ll work with them to increase their skill levels in those competency areas,” said Tanya Terrell.

It worked, and Jones was accepted into the program.

After this, the program’s graduates will get a two-month paid internship.

Eight out of 10 will get the lab jobs they desire. Some may go to college, even graduate school.

“This is just a launch pad for a career and a new life,” Terrell said.

More than 80,000 people who live in Baltimore City don’t have a high school diploma, according to the 2016 American Community Survey. The unemployment rate for those ages 25-64 without a high school diploma is almost 22 percent. More than 34 percent of Baltimoreans who did not graduate from high school are living in poverty.

SBLC offers pathways for adults to earn their high school diplomas as well as computer training, career pathway planning, academic counseling and tutoring services. SBLC provides programs to more than 900 learners each year.

Learn more about the program here: southbaltimorelearns.org and biotechmd.org

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