Access to Training, Transparent Career Advancement, and Pay Must Be Addressed to Build an Inclusive Care Economy Infrastructure
[Sacramento, CA] — National Skills Coalition (NSC) and Business Leaders United for Workforce Partnerships (BLU) released a five-point policy proposal from its Healthcare Industry Recovery Panel to inform White House and Congressional negotiations around the President’s proposed $400 billion investment in Care Economy infrastructure under the American Jobs Plan.
Van Ton-Quinlivan, CEO of Futuro Health, served on the 15-member panel of leading experts from across the country and called for a set of policies — including expanding access to Pell grants and increasing Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates — that responds to the growing demand for direct and allied healthcare workers.
“The pandemic has taught us how quickly conditions can shift. Skills training is essential for workers to stay relevant as work evolves,” said Ton-Quinlivan. “Through the American Jobs Plan, the President proposed investments in our Care Economy and in the skills and pay of the people on the frontlines of that economy — Congress and the White House must fulfill them to grow our nation’s essential healthcare workforce.”
“Frontline healthcare workers across the country, who are predominantly women and people of color, have been caring for people in the most high-risk settings while adapting to new ways of delivering care in a pandemic,” said Andy Van Kleunen, CEO of National Skills Coalition. “These policy recommendations from Futuro Health CEO Van Ton-Quinlivan and other leading experts will help attract and grow the healthcare workforce our nation needs, while making good on the President’s commitment to an equitable recovery.”
Underpaid labor, lack of access to training, and lack of transparent and accessible career advancement were contributing to labor shortages in direct and community-based healthcare before COVID-19 hit — median annual turnover among nursing assistants was 99% from 2016 to 2019, according to the Paraprofessional Health institute, for example. Increased risk, new patient needs that put new demands on allied healthcare workers, and closed schools (a major issue for these gender-segregated occupations) caused many workers to leave the caring economy for jobs advertising higher pay and lower stress, like e-commerce delivery and warehouse positions, increasing unfilled job openings. The industry also adopted new practices and innovations due to changing healthcare needs, creating new jobs that require new skills.
In an effort to address these challenges and shape proposed investment in our Care Economy infrastructure, panelists have been meeting with federal officials over the last month in advance of publicly releasing their recommendations. They outlined five critical pillars to driving an inclusive care economy, all of which can be viewed here.
- Prioritize workforce investments and equity under the American Jobs Plan by including resources to train new and incumbent workers for an expanded caring economy; investing in childcare, transportation assistance, and other wrap-around supports; and measuring outcomes with a focus on improving equity and job quality. In particular, providing quality, affordable, and flexible childcare is essential given the gender based occupational segregation of direct and allied healthcare.
- Support industry engagement and equitable career pathways across the continuum of care by increasing Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates, investing in Multi-Stakeholder Industry Partnerships to support inclusive career pathways, and encouraging state flexibility to support worker advancement and talent pipelines.
- Support nimble industry- and worker-responsive training and tuition assistance by funding integrated education and training to build foundational language and math skills; expanding access to Pell grants for high-quality, short-term training; expanding apprenticeship through the bipartisan PARTNERS Act; passing the Pathways to Healthcare Careers Act to support industry targeted training; and funding training provider capacity.
- Ensure healthcare workers and employers can adopt and adapt to new innovations by passing the bipartisan Digital Equity Act, investing in new Digital Literacy Upskilling grants, developing a measurable national standard for industry-specific digital upskilling efforts, expanding access to broadband and high-quality devices, and creating a Healthcare Extension Program to help local providers innovate and adopt new technologies.
- Incentivize employer investment in worker training and advancement by passing the bipartisan SKILL UP Act and expanding the Section 127 tuition reimbursement program.
NSC and BLU convened four recovery panels for the following industries:Healthcare, Manufacturing, Infrastructure, and Retail/Hospitality. The Infrastructure panel recently released its recovery proposals and the Manufacturing and Retail/Hospitality panels will release their recommendations in the coming weeks.
About Futuro Health
Futuro Health improves the health and wealth of communities by growing the largest network of credentialed allied health workers in the nation starting in California. We believe investing in education and skills training and retraining results in better-paying jobs for workers, better service for patients and better workers for employers to hire. Kaiser Permanente and Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) partnered to establish Futuro Health in January 2020 with a $130 million commitment.
About National Skills Coalition
NSC is a national organization fighting for inclusive, high-quality skills training so that people have access to a better life, and local businesses see sustained growth. We engage in analysis and technical assistance, organizing, advocacy, and communications to improve state and federal skills policies.
About Business Leaders United
Business Leaders United for Workforce Partnerships (BLU) is comprised of employers from a range of industries across the nation who are concerned about our nation’s skills mismatch, who are working with local partners to train and hire community residents for skilled jobs, and who want our country’s policymakers to follow suit and invest – aggressively and effectively – in the skills of America’s workers. BLU provides a common platform from which these diverse business leaders can jointly communicate to national policymakers, the press, and the American public about the effective industry-based strategies they’ve developed which could serve as models for a more comprehensive national skills policy.