Intermediary strategies

Success factors for workforce partners

Key elements

  • Focus on additional wrap around supports and soft skills training
  • Function in a hub/navigator role
  • Collaborate with other anchors or city economic development efforts

Focus on additional wrap around supports and soft skills training

Employment at a large institution such as a hospital often requires skills beyond those needed to meet the requirements for a particular position. Referred to as “soft skills,” this category of skills encompasses qualities such as general workplace readiness, ability to interview well, good workplace habits, and adherence to communication and dress norms. Even if those factors are not actually critical for the technical aspects of a position, they are critical to making it in the hiring process and thriving within an institution’s culture. A focus on soft skills can encompass application preparation, such as résumé reviews and interview skills, as well as general training around public speaking and communication.

Perceived “gaps in soft skills” are often reflections of barriers to employment.

Perceived “gaps in soft skills” are often reflections of barriers to employment. Qualities such as timeliness are affected by other jobs, childcare, or access to transportation. Financial stability can affect access to job-appropriate clothing or uniforms. Workforce intermediaries and community organizations frequently have access to wrap-around supports that can help applicants address some of these barriers. Damon Lew, assistant director of community relations at the University of California, San Francisco noted that a critical success factor to the Excellence through Community Engagement and Learning or EXCEL training program was identifying a training partner that could provide not just training support, but case management and wrap around services: “The biggest challenges contributing to individuals’ inability to complete the program come from outside the workplace—issues with childcare, housing, transportation. Programs need to have some sort of assistance set up outside the workplace.” Working with intermediaries that have these wrap around supports and soft skills trainings built into curriculum helps to address retention issues that might arise later on.1Damon Lew, interview by David Zuckerman and Katie Parker, December 11, 2015, transcript; For more information, see: www.ucsf.edu/about/cgr/current-projects/workforce

Intermediary functioning in a hub/navigator role

Although cohort models are critical to developing pipeline programs, another key piece of infrastructure to develop is a hub for residents interested in positions at the healthcare institution. Hiring processes at institutions can be opaque and confusing. Providing clear application instructions and descriptions of the process can help applicants who are already qualified get through the initial screening process. Moreover, the intermediary can perform the initial task of sorting applicants and pairing them to job opportunities that best fit their skills, work experience, and interests. University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus is working to build out this function and has hired a full-time manager who will work with applicants in the pipeline to navigate the process.2Robert McGranaghan interview. Another examples of a hub is at NHW, which has its own separate physical location adjacent to Yale University’s campus, where residents interested in employment opportunities are invited to visit. NHW hosts capped information sessions for twenty-five people. The morning of the information sessions, up to one hundred participants line up outside the building in order to gain access. NHW’s intake process sorts candidates based on whether they are eligible to work at Yale. Candidates are then sorted based on whether they are eligible but need additional training. This ensures that candidates only invest time in training pathways and applying for jobs that are attainable for them.3Boris Sigal interview.

Collaborate with other anchors or city economic development efforts

Although workforce development is traditionally thought of as a competitive field, in reality there are many benefits that come from collaboration.

Another best practice is to connect training initiatives to broader economic development efforts. This can facilitate collaboration between multiple institutions, which in turns allows programs to reach more participants. Although workforce development is traditionally thought of as a competitive field, in reality there are many benefits that come from collaboration. Johns Hopkins University and Health System in Baltimore, Maryland is a participant in the Baltimore Alliance for Careers in Healthcare (BACH), an organization that coordinates training around healthcare positions. BACH brings health systems together to identify common workforce needs and channel grant resources to participating institutions.4Yariela Kerr-Donovan, interview by David Zuckerman and Katie Parker, Baltimore, MD, January 7, 2016, transcript.

A model similar to this is the Careers in Healthcare Atlanta Mobility Project (CHAMP). Atlanta CareerRise partners with the Georgia Hospital Association to bring health systems together to collaborate around frontline positions. While physician and hospital leadership positions may be viewed as competitive among hospitals, and fall under the heading of proprietary, strategic information and health systems are often more willing to collaborate around frontline employees, explained Helen Slaven, healthcare industry partnership consultant with Atlanta CareerRise. “It’s a competitive environment in many respects but we have been able to engage them in discussing workforce needs,” she explained. Having the Georgia Hospital Association as a convener helps to facilitate this collaborative atmosphere.5Cinda Herndon-King and Helen Slaven interview..

Collaboration is also a success factor in a similar effort in Cincinnati, at the Health Careers Collaborative of Greater Cincinnati (HCC). Part of a larger, strategic initiative of United Way of Greater Cincinnati, the Collaborative is one of the career pathway programs of its Partners for a Competitive Workforce. The healthcare career pathway was initially developed in response to a nursing shortage in 2002. Previously, nurses had been moving between institutions for raises of only fifty cents an hour, creating a chaotic environment for hiring managers at local institutions and potentially affecting the delivery of quality patient care. However, eventually the hospitals came together to develop training programs in partnership with the local community, career technical colleges, and the local workforce investment board. This collaboration helped address the nursing shortage and created a strong foundation for future workforce development efforts. “Part of [our] secret sauce is that we have a history of being collaborative and coming together, of dropping egos and individual agendas when it comes to creating good work,” explained Sharron DiMario, senior manager of the Collaborative.6Sharron DiMario, interview by David Zuckerman and Katie Parker, December 3, 2015, transcript.

Program Design Strategies

Best practices for setting up a local hiring pipeline

  • Designate geographic focus in high-poverty neighborhoods
  • Work with residents with the greatest barriers to employment
  • Focus on jobs with clear career pathways
  • ...

Institutional Strategies

Tools to sustain local hiring efforts

  • Foster collaboration between human resources and community health departments
  • Connect forecasting, training, and hiring departments
  • Connect to health system diversity...

Intermediary strategies

Success factors for workforce partners

  • Offer wrap around supports and soft skills training
  • Function in a hub/navigator role
  • Work with a network of multiple employers

References   [ + ]

1. Damon Lew, interview by David Zuckerman and Katie Parker, December 11, 2015, transcript; For more information, see: www.ucsf.edu/about/cgr/current-projects/workforce
2. Robert McGranaghan interview.
3. Boris Sigal interview.
4. Yariela Kerr-Donovan, interview by David Zuckerman and Katie Parker, Baltimore, MD, January 7, 2016, transcript.
5. Cinda Herndon-King and Helen Slaven interview..
6. Sharron DiMario, interview by David Zuckerman and Katie Parker, December 3, 2015, transcript.