Pathway to the Future: How Workforce Development and Quality Jobs Can Promote Quality Care Conference Package. Local Solutions with National Applications to Address Health Care Industry Labor Shortages

05/01/2004

U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao is pleased to announce a series of investments totaling more than $24 million to counter health care labor shortages. For the past nine months, the U.S. Department of Labor has taken part in forums with health care industry leaders, educators, and the public workforce system.

DOL has sought to understand and implement industry-identified strategies to confront critical workforce shortages. It has listened at sessions conducted by associations representing thousands of health care institutions, and considered viewpoints expressed in-person by over 300 health care leaders. Solutions that have been adopted as a result of eight forums will act as national models through the President’s High Growth Job Training Initiative.

This set of solutions cuts across the national labor needs of the health care industry in acute care, long term care, allied health care professions, as well as the unique challenges facing rural areas. It focuses on specific as well as the broader range of challenges in the health care arena, including:

  • expanding the pipeline of youth entering the health care profession;
  • identifying alternative labor pools such as immigrants, veterans, and older workers that can be tapped and trained;
  • developing alternative training strategies for educating and training health care professionals, such as apprenticeship, distance learning, and accelerated training;
  • developing tools and curriculum for enhancing the skills of health care professionals for nationwide distribution;
  • enhancing the capacity of educational institutions through increased numbers of qualified faculty and new models for clinical training;
  • developing strategies to retain and help current health care workers move into higher level positions in shortage areas;
  • helping workers in declining industries build on existing skills and train for health care professions.

Overall, grants totaling more than $24 million are being funded across the nation. They are intended to provide genuine solutions, leadership, and models for partnerships that can be replicated in different parts of the country. The U.S. Department of Labor anticipates offering additional grants in a competitive process later this year.

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