In December 2017, Senator Nelson’s Regional Director, Alicia Tighe, visited the CareerEdge Healthcare Collaborative meeting to gather policy feedback from the participants.
One such concern is the need to expand Pell Grants for short-term training programs. In-demand positions such as CNAs, phlebotomists and other certifications are not Pell-eligible, yet these technical careers and middle-skill jobs are in high-demand. The employers also shared how they invest in their workforce, through training grants with CareerEdge, education reimbursements, and up-skilling low-skilled workers through training within their organizations.
Along with the Senator’s support of Pell Grant expansion, Ms. Tighe shared information on projects the Senator is supporting to improve the economy and workforce. These include the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the physician and nursing shortages, Telehealth for rural populations and the chronically ill, and tax credits for apprenticeships. Accessibility to education is also important to the Senator, which many in the collaborative agreed is a major barrier for entry. The Senator also wants to work with the younger generation and would like to introduce career preparedness into schools through career counselors and mentors, which will help place more young people into jobs upon graduation. Healthcare members shared that when employers connect with young students they can expose them to training, funding and career opportunities before they graduate high school and have fewer resources.
Attendees shared the following healthcare workforce concerns:
- The Board of Nursing is understaffed and is inefficient in processing license dismissal.
- Exam screening of new graduates such as CNAs and RNs, takes a long time (6 weeks to 3 months) after they have completed their course.
- There is a lack of capacity in nursing programs and students have difficulty getting into RN programs because of the shortage of instructors.
- Tax incentives could be used to give Master Nurses in hospitals a reason to move to the education sector and teach future BSNs, versus putting the financial burden of raising the teaching salary onto the students.
- Employers could step in financially to help the universities if there are not enough classes or teachers to produce the nurses they need.
- Apprenticeship models can be used in healthcare. For instance, there is a coding and billing apprenticeship program with St. Pete College and Tampa General and there is a $1,200 per person incentive from a DOL grant.
CareerEdge was pleased with the turnout from employers and their readiness to share with the Regional Director their workforce barriers and ideas.