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    June 05, 2012

    Fed cites Cincinnati Health Careers Collaborative as a model workforce program

    The partnership between the Southwest Ohio Region Workforce Investment Board (SWORWIB) and hospital employers that led to the establishment of the Greater Cincinnati Health Careers Collaborative (HCC) was hailed as one of 14 successful workforce initiatives nationwide in a just-released Government Accountability Office (GAO) report.

    The GAO recently submitted the report to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, which requested that the GAO “identify and describe promising practices … that have demonstrated positive results.” The Hamilton County partnership was one of 14 initiatives selected, from 89 nominated, and the only one in the State of Ohio.

    The Health Careers Collaborative of Greater Cincinnati, which now includes the largest hospitals in Cincinnati, began nearly 10 years ago as a partnership among the SWORWIB, local hospitals, Great Oaks, and Cincinnati State to address the entry-level workforce needs of the hospitals, which were experiencing tremendous turnover. Its purpose was to train and move incumbent hospital workers up the career ladder, opening positions for entry-level workers, who were primarily from low-income backgrounds. With training, they could get jobs in hospitals, and begin to develop a career path that would lead to self-sufficiency and job stability. Since 2007, more than 3,000 job seekers have been trained, with an 82 percent job placement rate for those who have completed their certificates, according to the HCC’s 2010 Annual Report.

    “Our partners formed the Health Careers Collaborative to help our hospitals get the kinds of workers they needed,” said Sherry Kelley Marshall, President/CEO of the SWORWIB. “We know this pathway approach works, and has led to sustaining careers for many people who previously had few job skills or secure work. We’re delighted that the GAO selected the HCC as a best practice.”

    The GAO’s report, entitled “Innovative Collaborations Between Workforce Boards and Employers Helped Meet Local Needs,” cited six factors that helped the collaborations succeed.

    • Focusing on urgent needs for multiple employers across a sector: Cincinnati focused on health care, and addressed the critical skills needed by hospitals and employers’ high turnover rate. This approach also meant that Cincinnati hospitals banded together to address their needs, instead of competing against each other.
    • Critical leadership: Key leaders identified by the hospitals’ management had to own this effort for it to succeed. Additionally, top leaders at the SWORWIB, support agencies and educational institutions continue to be involved, assuring commitment.
    • Leveraging resources: Participating employers in Cincinnati covered tuition costs for their incumbent employees’ training up-front, allowing many more to take skills training without worrying how they would cover the costs.
    • Employer responsive services: Business services staff at the SuperJobs Center, Hamilton County’s one-stop, were assigned to work with health care employers to help them find suitable candidates for entry-level jobs and training. Additionally, curriculum and supportive services were developed in response to the employers, including the expansion of the School at Work program, which addressed remedial needs of some employees and prepared them for credentialed training.
    • Minimizing administrative burden: “In Cincinnati, partners developed a shared data system to more efficiently track participants, services received and outcomes achieved,” the GAO says.
    • Results helped sustain collaborations: “In Cincinnati, employers who participated in the health care initiative realized about $4,900 in cost savings per worker hired,” the report says.

    The GAO says that the results in Cincinnati, as well as other successful initiatives, “can be instructive for future collaborations and efforts to enhance the workforce investment system.”

    Lawra Baumann, Executive Director of the HCC, suggests that the model used by hospitals and the workforce system in Cincinnati and Hamilton County is one that other areas could adopt. “We know this works. It has helped our hospitals and helped thousands of low-skilled workers start to climb the ladder of career success.”

    The current partners of the HCC include: Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Mercy Health Partners, TriHealth, UC Health, and Black Stone Home Care; Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, Great Oaks Career Campuses, and Miami University-Middletown; the SWORWIB, Dress for Success Cincinnati, and Mercy Neighborhood Ministries.

    The Southwest Ohio Region Workforce Investment Board is a nonprofit organization serving the City of Cincinnati and Hamilton County in workforce development. SWORWIB is comprised of leaders from business, education, labor, and government, with the majority of its board members representing the business sector. SWORWIB sets the vision, policy direction, and performance expectations for the regional workforce development system, including the SuperJobs Center at 1916 Central Parkway.

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