Class is in Session for new Pharmacy Technician students

On June 10th, the Buffalo Center for Arts and Technology welcomed a new cohort of students in the Adult Workforce program, setting out to complete training and coursework to become pharmacy technicians.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the career prospects for pharmacy technicians has been consistently positive since 2016. “Increased demand for prescription medications will lead to more demand for pharmaceutical services,” the data show.

In fact, employment outlooks for careers in the medical field overall, which is the focus of BCAT’s Adult Workforce Program, is positive across the board. Employment for Medical Records and Health Information Technicians, the broader group under which Medical Coding falls, is projected to grow 13%, up through 2026. 

Despite these data, there are still instances where students sometime fall behind or have to resign from the workforce programs completely. Deborah Porter, the Director of the Adult Workforce Program, says there are many reasons why this tends to happen and she has tactics to navigate around these roadblocks.

“I do house calls,” she says with a smile. “If I have a student that is consistently coming to class, and then all of the sudden they are not showing up or responding to emails or phone calls, I will do a house call. That’s a part of the social-emotional support we provide that a lot of other sponsored programs don’t,” she continued. 

When all else fails, a home visit from Ms. Porter typically gets the student back in class the next day, she said. Although many students are attracted to the tuition free education, made possible through community investment from various sources, there are other benefits she says that make the difference as well.

“We don’t have the restrictions that a lot of other free programs have. We don’t go by income and you don’t need a prior college education,” Porter said. Potential students do however need to possess a high school diploma or High School Equivalency (HSE). 

Getting people trained and working in high demand fields is at the core of the staff’s work at BCAT. Even on the national level, the workforce is in need of skilled, technically trained workers. 

A 2017 article published in the New York Times described the seemingly confusing relationship between those looking for higher paying jobs and their potential employers. The writer, Ruth Graham, explained this as the “strange disconnect between two of the big narratives about the American blue-collar workforce.” 

“In one story, there is a population of unemployed and underemployed working-class adults for whom well-paying work seems increasingly out of reach. But an apparently conflicting story comes from American employers, who have been insisting for years that they have a hard time finding workers to fill many skilled, blue-collar jobs,” Graham wrote. She says that the healthcare industry is seeing a similar situation for trained workers. 

It may be hard for some to believe but there are many instances where even those who have obtained degrees such as their Associate’s or Bachelor’s find themselves unemployed or underemployed. Many who attend BCAT have run into this dilemma and are looking for a different route.

“Some students just need retraining. We actually have people that come in with college degrees but haven’t been able to do anything with them,” said Porter. 

However, she continued, “the majority of our adult students come in completely fresh with no knowledge of the field. But, what connects them all is that they want to be a part of the healthcare industry.”

For all students, regardless of background, education or experience, Porter says what keeps them going and helps them follow through is the transparency of everyone at the organization. 

“Our program allows members of the community to dream again. We train them on completing job applications because some don’t understand that leaving blank space on their application is one of the easiest ways to be denied a job. The level of support they get here is why they stay,” Porter explained. 

Anyone interested in the Adult Workforce Program may contact Deborah Porter directly at (716)-259-1680, extension 104. You may also find out more information about the organization online at https://buffaloartstechcenter.org/