PENDLETON -- Loretta Cappiello had no idea it would be so tough getting back into the workforce full time when she began her job search in 2009.

She had just earned her bachelor's degree in information technology and with an associate degree in accounting from Tri-County Technical College and 15 years of accounting work experience at local businesses and industries on her resume, she felt confident.  Although she found sporadic part-time work, nothing materialized into a permanent position - until this year, when she completed the A+ Computer Service Technician Certificate through the receipt of a scholarship resulting from a new collaboration between AARP Foundation and the American Association of Community Colleges with generous support from Wal-Mart Foundation.

Tri-County Technical College received a major grant, $165,200 over two years.  The College is one of 15 colleges in the country to participate in AARP Foundation's initiative to expand employment opportunities to job candidates who are age 50 and older. BACK TO WORK 50+ at Tri-County Technical College is designed to coordinate employment services, public benefits application assistance, financial literacy and education, and employer connections. BACK TO WORK 50+ grant targets the needs of low-income, older adult women and offers targeted training qualifying job seekers in the areas of healthcare support, office and administrative support and computer occupations that lead to in-demand jobs.

Since the New Year, Cappiello has secured full-time employment as IT manager at Imperial Metrology, Inc. in Piedmont.   In this position, she manages company e-mail communications and handles other IT-related duties such as the company's e-commerce store, website, Google+ pages, Facebook page and LinkedIn business page, as well as installing software and maintaining company computers.

 "This is a great beginning to 2015 after a really rough time," recalls Cappiello, 53, in describing the past six years, when she has depended on subcontract and temp agency jobs to keep her and her husband, now disabled, afloat.  "I had the IT degree but no related experience so I relied on these temp jobs.  I was looking for anything and everything.  But the goal always was to work full time," said the Six Mile resident. 

In the A+ Certification class, students learn to install, upgrade, repair, configure, optimize, troubleshoot and perform preventative maintenance on basic personal computer hardware and operating systems. The class is targeted to anyone with basic computer user skills who is interested in obtaining a job as an IT professional or PC technician.  In addition, this course helps prepare students to achieve a CompTIA A+ Certification.

"When I found the A+ class, I knew I had found the answer.  It has really turned things around for me," said Cappiello.   

Glen Morton, owner of Imperial Metrology, Inc. says she was exactly what he was looking for in filling this position of IT manager for the company that is an accredited calibration laboratory offering electronic calibrations, physical and mechanical calibrations, optical calibrations and 2D/3D inspection services, as well as a complete line of dimensional inspection and engineering services.

"I needed someone very detail oriented, committed and dedicated.  That's Loretta.  The A+ certification was a major factor in my decision to hire her.  She is doing well.   Loretta is grounded and mature and self motivated.  She is exactly what we were looking for.  We're a family here and she really fits in," said Morton.

 "As a result of the grant, our Corporate and Community Education Division will be able to offer a number of training scholarships through BACK TO WORK 50+ in select QuickJobs certificates that include Computer Skills for the Workplace, Administrative Microsoft Office Specialist, Medical Office/Patient Access Specialist and Computer Technician A+ Certification," said Sandra Strickland, program manager for BACK TO WORK 50+ at Tri-County Technical College.

            For more information about BACK TO WORK 50+ at Tri-County Technical College, contact Sandra Strickland at 646-1732 or visit www.tctc.edu/aarp.  To sign up for a BACK TO WORK 50+ Information Session call toll free 855-850-2525.