The following is a report prepared by Alexander, Wegner, & Associates for the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration’s Business Relations Group. This report details what the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (DOL ETA) has learned from employers, employees, educators, workforce professionals, and researchers about health care workforce challenges and solutions. It provides the basis for developing strategic partnerships that include industry, education, and the public workforce system.
At the federal level alone the public workforce system invests over $15 billion each year providing employment and training services to people who need them. ETA is always looking for more effective and efficient ways to use these resources. The Initiative, of which this report is a part, is directed toward forging these partnerships and making these improvements.
To address workforce needs in health care and other industries, ETA created the Business Relations Group. Recognizing that workforce development is part of economic development, the Business Relations Group’s focus is on the education, employment, and economic development partnerships that are needed to fuel our nation’s economy. ETA’s goal is to prepare the workforce system to better serve the needs of business, and to connect businesses with the workforce system through targeted initiatives.
Based on ETA’s review of major areas of job growth, the health care industry was selected as one of 12 industries for the High Growth Job Training Initiative.
The reality of the situation allows employers the opportunity to reach out and offer jobs in health care that are enticing to potential job seekers. Health care occupations are attractive because they are located across the nation, provide a professional work environment, and are portable. The health care industry needs greater diversity among its workforce, and therefore may be attractive to new labor pools. There is an increased building of career ladders and lattices that are available to workers so they can shape their careers.
Meeting the short-term needs and the projections for the coming decade is only part of the challenge. The long-term care sector alone will see an increase of 5.7 to 6.6 million direct-care workers by the year 2050.2 Even the most optimistic hopes for increased technological solutions or improvements in the health of Americans will not prevent this increased need for direct care workers.
ETA heard from employers, and others associated with health care, of some of their actions to identify challenges and implement effective workforce strategies. ETA heard of the pressures they experience to do much more, to do it quickly, and to do it in a way that is sustainable over a long period of time. Health care leaders are committed to dealing with major workforce issues. However, the challenges they face are far too complex for any one institution or sector to solve alone. It has never been more important for ETA to build partnerships between employers, employees, educators, workforce professionals and government.
The Employment and Training Administration and the public workforce system will now move to partner with industry and education institutions to act on solutions from this report that highlight innovative ways that the workforce system can be a catalyst for meeting the health care industry’s workforce needs.
To those who gave generously of their time, effort and other resources for this initial work -- thank you for your thoughtful contributions. To those reading about this initiative for the first time -- ETA looks forward to your contributions to building a responsive and sustainable health care workforce system throughout the country.
As ETA heard from different industries, it found several workforce challenges that are common throughout different sectors. ETA will look to partner to address these workforce problems across industries. Solutions will be categorized under the following categories: pipeline, competency models, post-secondary and alternative training, new labor pools, retention, transitioning/declining industries, and small businesses.
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