mu extensionCOLUMBIA, Mo. — Individuals that lack experience and education are finding it more and more difficult to find a career. A new program with the University of Missouri Extension could be the silver lining sought by so many.

“The Missouri Employment and Training Program, which is a program that focuses on food stamp recipients who are ready to make a change in their situation and in their employment path,” said  Mary Paulsell, executive director of MU Extension’s Small Business Development Center. “The individuals we’re working with, typically, are very, very highly motivated to make a change. It may be because they want to do more for their children, they want to move into a career path in health care or manufacturing …”

Participants from around the state participate in the Missouri Employment and Training Program in the hopes of moving away from government assistance and toward independence. One of the METP counselors, Tonya Reins, encourages participants to have faith in themselves, regardless of their current situation.

“I tell people that I have the greatest job in the world because we get to make such a difference,” Reins said. “I think what we do is such a game changer for people’s lives and for their lifestyles.”

A change in lifestyle is exactly the goal of METP counselors. Counselor Karen Westphal said individuals can become dependent on government assistance. She added too few people receiving welfare are given opportunity to improve their circumstances.

“Many people that are on assistance, are on assistance because there are many barriers in their lives that have caused them to be there,” Westphal stated. “Many of them want to work, have the willingness to work, or are working, but maybe are under employed or there’s other barriers in their life that have caused them not to be able to get a job.”

More information on the METP program can be obtained by calling your local extension office.