Partnership Develops New Training Program to Connect County Residents With Work Opportunities

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CLEVELAND – Cleveland Clinic, MetroHealth, and University Hospitals (UH) have joined forces to help train and provide local community members with job opportunities in the healthcare field in Northeast Ohio. The Workforce Connect Healthcare Sector Partnership (HSP) is housed at Cuyahoga Community College as the designated intermediary and is an employer-led collaborative that includes the three health systems, as well as Southwest General Health Center, VA Northeast Ohio, and community partners. The HSP prioritized three initiatives: Develop clear and actionable career pathways with family-sustaining wages for Cuyahoga County jobseekers; improve economic opportunity for Cuyahoga County jobseekers, and address the critical shortage of entry level healthcare talent for employers.

The goal is to hire 100 entry level full-time workers by June 2022 with sustainable wages, benefits (including tuition assistance) and opportunities for career advancement.

Hospitals face several challenges while recruiting for positions. The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified existing clinical shortages, especially in nursing. Healthcare in NE Ohio employs more than 300,000 workers. There are expected to be 85,000 job openings during the next decade.

As a result, one of the first projects the HSP developed includes the launch of the Healthcare Career On-Ramp training program that connects Cuyahoga County residents with open positions at the Cleveland Clinic, MetroHealth, and UH. The On-Ramp program, which focuses on under-resourced communities with high unemployment, aims to increase community hiring and promote career progression of entry-level workers.

“Healthcare offers exciting and fulfilling career opportunities,” said Kim Shelnick, Vice President for Talent Acquisition at UH. “Our goal with On-Ramp is to provide a bridge to stable employment with competitive wages and career advancement for many of our community members who may not otherwise have access to these opportunities.”

As part of the On-Ramp program, approximately 10 to 15 potential employees will be part of an eight-day training session occurring every few weeks. Those who successfully complete the training are given a stipend and guaranteed an interview with at least one of the three health systems. The hiring process is fast-tracked to extend an offer in a timely fashion. Once hired, the new employee receives six months of post-hire job coaching with Towards Employment to help ensure success.

The trainees are currently taught in a hybrid virtual/on-site model by instructors from Towards Employment, with the goal to move completely to in-person classes at Cuyahoga Community College’s Metro campus in the near future. “At UH, we launched an initiative years ago called Step Up to UH, which has a similar goal of training and coaching for successful career progression,” said Adrianne Shadd, Program Manager, Workforce Development and Outreach. “When we were designing the HSP On-Ramp program, we shared our learnings and best practices as a foundation to help create this joint effort.”

Through the On-Ramp program, the health systems share information about job descriptions/requirements, identify potential participants and will use consistent calculation of employee performance success metrics.

“We believe in Equity for ALL. Addressing unemployment gaps and providing jobs with equitable sustaining wages, and development opportunities are critical factors that allow people to lead thriving fulfilling lives; and in turn helps our communities to become healthier,” said Alan Nevel, Senior Vice President and Chief Equity Officer at MetroHealth.

For the first year, the health systems have also set a retention rate goal of 70 percent and that 80 percent of the new hires will come from under-resourced communities. As part of the program, support will be provided for these new hires for the first six months to help achieve retention goals. In the future, the health systems will also measure how many new On-Ramp hires are promoted, the number who are in internal pathway programs for future career growth, and how many pursue higher education.

The HSP’s other priorities are to produce more healthcare graduates to meet demand and spark youth interest in in-demand healthcare careers. They hope to do this in the future by creating exposure opportunities for middle school and high school students to learn about a future in healthcare, and develop pipelines to workforce and post-secondary programs. The initial focus will be on the Cleveland Municipal School District, and later, the inner-ring suburbs.

Other challenges include an aging community that needs more care in a region where the number of healthcare graduates isn’t meeting patient demand. Additionally, at least one in five nurses are planning to retire or leave the profession in the next five years (according to the 2020 National Nursing Workforce Survey).

“In conversations with our colleagues from other institutions, we recognized that we were all experiencing common challenges,” said Kelly Hancock, D.N.P., Chief Caregiver Officer at Cleveland Clinic. “Now, through the Healthcare Sector Partnership, we are collaborating to address these issues while working to create a pipeline of talent that will benefit our health systems as well as the communities we serve.”

High-level health system representatives are participating in monthly HSP steering committee meetings, and the CEOs of the Clinic, MetroHealth, and UH, Southwest General and VA Northeast Ohio are supporting the effort.

The On-Ramp Program and the work of the HSP are funded with philanthropic dollars, county funding, and employer in-kind match. The partnership is also working with more than 75 Cleveland community organizations.

For more information, visit https://www.tri-c.edu/workforce/on-ramp-training.html.

 

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