Robert Espinoza, Executive Vice President of Policy at PHI: The Direct Care Crisis Hits Home

Every day, nearly five million direct care workers support older adults and people with disabilities across the United States, and the critical need for this workforce is only increasing as the proportion of people over sixty-five continues to grow dramatically. Given an existing shortage of workers and a high turnover rate in the profession due to low pay, lack of training and poor management, the chances of meeting that need are low. Add in the unaffordability of these services and the difficulty many loved ones have navigating the system and it is a deeply troubling picture, according to our WorkforceRx guest Robert Espinoza, executive vice president for policy at PHI. “All of these barriers compound and create a system where it’s going quickly, I think, from crisis to catastrophe,” he tells Futuro Health CEO Van Ton-Quinlivan. But while the problems are many, so are the potential solutions. Espinoza sees particular promise in several state and local initiatives including wage pass-through laws to boost worker pay, stronger training requirements and tapping into the undocumented immigrant population, which he sees as a major part of the answer. Be sure to listen to the end to learn about an innovative training program in San Francisco on which Futuro Health and PHI are collaborating, and Espinoza’s ideas for leveraging the relationship between family caregivers and direct care workers.

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Mark Argosh, Social Venture Partners Connecticut: What Connecticut Does Right on Job Training

Even if all of the unemployed people in Connecticut took one of the 109,000 open positions in the state, there would still be thousands of jobs left unfilled. What that says to Mark Argosh, chair of the Governor’s Workforce Council, is the state needs to get more people off the sidelines. “We have to be able to increase the labor force participation rate in Connecticut, and what that means is especially focus on underserved populations that face significant barriers,” he tells Futuro Health CEO Van Ton-Quinlivan. That recognition has prompted investment in services such as childcare, transportation and supportive housing. But that’s just one element of a multi-pronged approach that includes building partnerships within industry sectors, consolidating training programs in higher ed and providing a central point of contact in state government on workforce issues. The state is also supporting one of the largest government-funded job training programs in the country and it recently won the largest award in the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Good Jobs Challenge. “I think what this represents is an endorsement of the strategies and approach that we’re taking to transform workforce development.” Tune in to this episode of WorkforceRx for a deep dive into best practices in workforce development at the state level, and learn how the non-profit Argosh leads, Social Venture Partners Connecticut, employs a “venture philanthropy” model to close opportunity gaps in the state.

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