Increasingly, government officials see innovative, robust training programs as a means to address workforce shortages; and they’re turning their attention to healthcare.
As part of its efforts to expand job training in the U.S., the Department of Labor (DOL) has given one large senior living provider permission to launch an apprenticeship program for certified nursing assistants (CNAs). The program will provide select individuals with on-the-job and technical training to advance their careers and help address a projected nationwide shortage of healthcare workers and professional caregivers.
The program, established by Brookdale Senior Living, will be piloted at the organization’s Chattanooga, TN, communities early next year. Each apprentice will be paired with a mentor for coaching and support during what is estimated to be a year-long program. In addition to career development, associates who complete the program will earn a nationally recognized CNA certificate and be eligible for up to three pay increases during the program (if certain milestones are met).
“The apprenticeship program has the potential to change an associate’s life, while providing Brookdale communities with the talent they need to enrich the lives of our residents,” said Brookdale CEO Cindy Baier.
Encouraging apprenticeship programs is a priority for the DOL. The department recently announced plans to establish a process to advance the development of high-quality, industry-recognized apprenticeship programs (IRAPs). DOL further announced awards totaling $183.8 million to support the development and expansion of apprenticeships for educational institutions partnering with companies that provide a funding match component. The department also will make an additional $100 million available for efforts to expand apprenticeships and close the skills gap.
Under a proposed DOL rule, entities such as trade, industry, and employer groups or associations, educational institutions, state and local government entities, non-profit organizations, unions, or a consortium or partnership of these entities could become a Standards Recognition Entity (SRE) that sets standards for training, structure, and curricula for IRAPs in relevant industries or occupational areas. The criteria for high-quality IRAPs include paid work, work-based learning, mentorships, education and instruction, industry-recognized credentials, safety and supervision, and adhering to equal employment opportunity obligations.