Job losses are just one of the many negative impacts of COVID-19 and as the pandemic continues, so do the layoffs and furloughs.

"It's an unprecedented situation but it is an opportunity if you can turn it around into something positive," said Leslie Bartholomew, director of returning adult and veteran services at Lehigh Carbon Community College.

LCCC is partnering with Northampton Community College and Workforce Board Lehigh Valley to help those affected locally get back to work.

"When the pandemic struck back in March, we all got together virtually saying 'What can we start to put in place right now?'" said Lauren Loeffler, vice president of workforce development and community education at Northampton Community College.

The answer? A job retraining program called "Top Degrees Close to Home."

"With three-decade high unemployment, there are over 7,000 jobs available but they require special skills," said Bartholomew.

The program will provide displaced workers with education and training in fields which have job openings in our area. These include manufacturing, technology, healthcare, and office administration.

Those involved call it an opportunity for workers to learn new skills or even start a new career.

"For example people that were in the retail trades, now all of them aren't back so what they're saying is 'Wow, now it's time for me to look at something different maybe,'" said Nancy Dischinat, executive director of Workforce Board Lehigh Valley.

Classes will be taught through both colleges and many of the programs are accelerated.

"Between like 100 hours and maybe 400 hours to get people moved quickly through programs to get them back out to work for employers who desperately need these positions filled to keep their businesses moving forward," said Loeffler.

Funding is available through Workforce Board to help cover costs, making it an affordable chance for the unemployed to get back on the horse.

"If they're made aware of this type of funding and they're willing to put in the time to learn something new, and extend some effort and true interest, it's a way for someone to reinvent themselves," said Loeffler.

More information can be found on either school's website or through Workforce Board Lehigh Valley.