Partnership for Direct Care Workers
The big picture
JOIN is investing in a partnership that moves entry-level healthcare workers and low-skilled job seekers into career pathways.
- The Partnership works with area hospitals, nursing homes, and independent-living facilities to identify talent shortages in mid-level positions.
- Then, the Partnership works with more than a dozen educational, workforce, and community organizations, to prepare entry-level workers and low-skilled job seekers for these mid-level positions that pay a family-sustaining wage.
The healthcare labor force has a glut of entry-level labor and a shortage of mid-level labor. As a result, many low-skilled workers are in jobs that pay poverty wages, while healthcare employers have trouble filling critical, mid-level jobs that pay family sustaining wages.
There are two primary causes of this dual workforce crisis:
- Low awareness of career pathway opportunities among low-skilled job seekers and workers.
- A lack of access to customized training and support to move into post secondary education and training programs that prepare workers for high-demand mid-level positions in nursing, allied health, behavioral health, and health information.
The Partnership provides entry-level workers with the support, education, and the employer environment needed to move up the career ladder.The partnership specifically provides two sets of supports:
- Career counselors to help entry-level workers and low-skilled job seekers understand and navigate career pathway opportunities.
- Training, contextualized literacy, and other academic bridge courses to move into post secondary programs that prepare students for mid-level positions.
Both of these supports are provided collaboratively with employers to ensure that workers have the support and flexibility they need to succeed. With these supports, workers are able to move up the career pathway pictured below
While many industries are facing layoffs in the current economy, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that nationally the healthcare industry has grown by 348,000 jobs in the past twelve months and will continue to grow. The dramatic growth is evident right in our own backyard as Business Week reports, for example, that Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) seeks to hire more than 3,000 employees by 2011. The life sciences industry is currently the number one employer in the greater Philadelphia area, employing over 350,000 area residents which amounts to 11 percent of the region’s total employment and nearly 13 percent of the region’s total earnings. Since the region is facing economic and workforce challenges, including an aging population requiring expanded healthcare services and a dearth of direct care and skilled workers, it is imperative for the healthcare industry to develop innovative interventions that will enable the industry to grow their own high-skilled workforce.
The outlook for Allied Health occupations indicates continued growth through 2014. There are two levels of jobs within Allied Health:
1.Technical-level jobs requiring a high school diploma and short-term training in occupations such as Pharmacy Technician, Supply Processing Distribution (SPD) Technician, and Telemetry Technician (drawing salaries of $28,000 to $46,000)
2.Mid-level positions, requiring a higher level of academic competency and some college credits or a college degree, including positions such as Radiographers, Medical Technicians and Technologists, and Respiratory Therapists (with salaries starting at $46,000, going up to $63,000).
Note: The information above was provided by the Pennsylvania Partnership for Direct Care Workers.
This partnership brings together community partners, educational institutions, and more than fifty employers, including hospitals, nursing homes, home health aide agencies, and independent-living and behavioral-health facilities. Sample partners in the partnership include:
The partnership is being managed by the District 1199C Training & Upgrading Fund.
The Training Fund is a 34-year old educational trust fund, which is a partnership of the National Union of Hospital & Health Care Workers, AFSCME and 50 contributing healthcare employers. The Fund serves 18,000 Philadelphia area union members and community residents, providing access to information, counseling, academic remediation, and on-site skills training for individuals wanting to enter the workforce or advance within a variety of careers in healthcare and human services.
The Fund works closely with area employers, providing customized educational programs that address employees’ literacy needs as well as the need for skills upgrading. Fund staff work closely with employers in growing their own high skilled workers from among their entry-level workforce. The Fund also works closely with employers to address their recruitment and retention needs.
The Fund’s Learning Center is a 35,000 square foot facility in center city Philadelphia which houses classrooms, nursing laboratories, and computer laboratories. Students are engaged in classroom learning, employer-based internships, hands-on laboratory studies, peer learning groups, and mentoring projects. Beyond traditional learning opportunities, students are exposed to authors, public advocacy, and speakers on issues confronting healthcare workers in their workplace and in their communities.