CareerEdge Funders Collaborative has awarded five grants totaling $205,210 to help Sarasota and Manatee healthcare providers train workers for higher-skilled, better-paying positions in 2013.  CareerEdge also recently revived a bi-county consortium of employers, educators, and community agencies focused on improving workforce development in the healthcare sector.

The five employers receiving grants from CareerEdge to partially offset training costs are Blake Medical Center, Life Care Center of Sarasota, Manatee Memorial Hospital, Pines of Sarasota Foundation, and Venice Regional Medical Center.  The investments will help them train 464 local healthcare workers.  Four of the providers previously received funding from CareerEdge, which is now in its third year of healthcare-training grants.  Venice Regional Medical Center is a new partner for 2013.

Venice Regional identified several areas of training for its employees, including rehabilitative care, critical care, progressive care for nurses, trauma nurse core course, and health information systems.  Employees who complete the training will have necessary occupational skills that align with Venice Regional’s career laddering.  In addition, those earning a credential through their training will be eligible for a pay increase.  “The outcome of this partnership with CareerEdge supports our values in achieving optimal patient outcomes and clinical excellence,” said Peter Wozniak, CEO of Venice Regional Medical Center.

The five employers have committed more than $1.28 million of their own funds toward training their workers in partnership with CareerEdge.  Based on CareerEdge’s funding model, healthcare grantees have assumed an increasingly larger percentage of training costs in successive years as they have seen the benefits of investing in their workforces.

“These employers’ significant contributions show the value they have seen in making workforce investment a priority,” said Mark Pritchett, senior vice president of Gulf Coast Community Foundation and co-chair of CareerEdge.  “Their employees are more skilled and compensated accordingly, morale is improved, patient satisfaction is higher, and we think that leads to increased quality of care overall for the region.”  Gulf Coast Community Foundation acts as the fiscal agent for CareerEdge.

Beyond grants for worker training, CareerEdge is expanding its impact on the region’s healthcare sector by leading a bi-county working group focused on healthcare-specific workforce issues.  The previously named Bi-County Healthcare Committee, which was formed by Suncoast Workforce but dissolved when its funding lapsed in 2010, has been revived by CareerEdge in response to employer demand.  The newly named Sarasota Manatee Healthcare Collaborative has been meeting since January, with more than 30 employers and educators participating.

“We provide an open forum to share and learn best practices, discuss challenges, and arrive at solutions together,” said Veronica Lequeux, vice president of human resources at Blake Medical Center and chair of the Sarasota Manatee Healthcare Collaborative.  According to Lequeux, the group in its current iteration has evolved much like the issues within the healthcare industry have.  “Today, as a stronger partnership than ever, we focus on promoting system changes at a regional level that will impact the community at large,” she said.

Jennifer Carp, assistant director of CareerEdge, notes that working with the Sarasota Manatee Healthcare Collaborative will enable CareerEdge to widen the scope of services it provides and help make the region’s healthcare sector more competitive.  CareerEdge intends to invest in trainings and other initiatives through the consortium, said Carp.