Earlier this month, dozens of dietary workers from across the state graduated from the Training and Education Fund’s (TEF) inaugural Dietary Skills Enhancement Class in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Harrisburg. The class, a 10-week course covering culinary skills, customer service, conflict resolution and communication skills, among others, was designed in collaboration with Philadelphia Community College and is aimed at not only helping to improve current dietary worker skills, but to encourage further learning and career advancement.
Wadeeah Jennkins, a dietary worker at Genesis HealthCare and member of SEIU Healthcare PA, helped to design the curriculum and was particularly pleased with the skills she took away from the class.
“It’s helping me to be a better dietary aid,” said Wadeeah.
That’s important, she said, because it means she can feel confident that she’s taking better care of the residents in her facility.
Pedro Martinez was surprised by not only how much he was able to get out of the class, but how skills he never thought important would make his job easier. Skills like communication.
“When you come in, you assume you already know by working in the kitchen,” he said. “When you get in here you get so many specifics. I work with residents everyday and now I know how to communicate better with them.”
According to TEF Executive Director Lisa Williams, the fund has a variety of courses for members looking to improve skills in their field.
“We have the CNA Skills Enhancement Class and next year we’re going to re-launch LPN Skills Enhancement Class,” she said. “Eventually we’d like to do an Environmental Services Skills Enhancement class.”
According to Williams, TEF courses are about more than skills enhancement.
“I think part of it is about having our members fully understand the importance of what they do and their relation to patient care,” she said. “We want our members to feel more confident.”
More than just build confidence, the classes are effective in encouraging members to continue their education and even pursue further career goals.
“What we find in these classes is that a good number of students then think, ‘I don’t want to stop here. I want to keep learning,’” said Williams. “Then we move them into the tuition assistance benefit and help them along their path – whether it’s food service or dietary or culinary skills or whether they decide, ‘I love this, but I’m really interested in social work or criminal justice or becoming a radiologist technician.’
The TEF provides many opportunities for members to improve their skills, their education, and their lives. Take advantage of the benefits of being a member of the union. Learn more about the Training and Education Fund by contacting your TEF representative for information about enrollment, to sign up for classes, or schedule career counseling.