The West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology (WMCAT) is enrolling adults for tuition-free career training in healthcare support fields that can lead to family economic security and strengthen the healthcare sector. The nationally recognized Adult Career Training Program at WMCAT is open to under and unemployed adults in Kent County who are looking for living wage, meaningful career opportunities in medical coding, medical billing, and pharmacy technician (and – in early 2022 – a new class in information technology). Classes begin in September with enrollment open now through July 15, 2021.

Courtney Parker is a 2020 graduate of WMCAT’s career training program and works as a pharmacy technician at Meijer.

“It’s more important than ever to train people for living wage careers in high-demand industries like healthcare,” said Jamon Alexander, president and CEO of WMCAT. “The pandemic has exposed families even further to change, such as reduced hours at work or even job loss. It is imperative that WMCAT continues to provide tuition-free career training to ensure family economic security in West Michigan. Providing flexible, high-quality training for adults to move into new, in-demand careers is essential to any economic recovery we hope to make as a community.”

One of those adults is Courtney Parker, a 2020 graduate of WMCAT’s pharmacy technician program. Faced with finishing her coursework virtually in spring 2020 when the pandemic hit, Parker persevered and was able to take and pass the pharmacy technician certification exam offered by WMCAT partner Meijer Inc. Today, Parker is a pharmacy technician with Meijer, where she provides support for all steps of the pharmacy process, including registering and preparing clients for COVID-19 vaccines.

“I have learned a lot of patience this year,” said Parker. “It makes you more aware of other people’s situations. We are all in the same boat right now with COVID and we have to adjust.” Parker continued, “I’m driven to do this work because I don’t want to struggle. I don’t want to live paycheck-to-paycheck. I want to work my way into financial freedom.”

WMCAT is able to provide this six-to-nine-month training and personal development experience tuition-free thanks to recent multi-year grants from local and national foundations. WMCAT announces the following grants for two-years of program delivery, growth, and integration of new training models:

  •   W.K. Kellogg Foundation $600,000
  •   Grand Rapids Community Foundation $200,000
  •   JPMorgan Chase $100,000

“After the many challenges of the last year, the Community Foundation is working with our partners to reimagine a renewed West Michigan. WMCAT’s important work in career training helps build and sustain an inclusive economy and thriving community,” said Janean Couch, program director at Grand Rapids Community Foundation.

Alexander said, “WMCAT is grateful to our funding partners for their investment, guidance and commitment to innovative and impactful pathways to opportunities for families in West Michigan. Philanthropic partnerships ensure we can remove financial barriers for our students, deliver high quality classes, and provide holistic support to families.”

JPMorgan Chase is supporting programs like WMCAT’s because they know the future of work is now. By many estimates more than 30 percent of the U.S. labor market and 375 million workers globally will need to change jobs or upgrade their skills to advance within the workforce by 2030.

“As a longstanding local employer, we have a responsibility to help create a more equitable and inclusive economy for all residents across the region,” said Steve Abbott, market executive for West Michigan for middle market banking and specialized industries at JPMorgan Chase. “Building a skilled workforce and connecting workers with the skills, resources and real-world experiences they need are critical to these efforts. WMCAT is helping to bridge the skill gap, and we’re thrilled to work with them to help prepare more West Michigan residents for a prosperous future.”

Kent County adults who are interested in WMCAT’s tuition-free career training can learn more and begin the enrollment process at or by calling WMCAT at (616) 454-7004. Classes begin in September with enrollment open now through July 15, 2021.