Mardy Leathers, Executive Director of Apprenticeships for America: Reinvigorating a Proven Strategy for Workforce Development

EP65 WorkforceRx Podcast Mardy Leathers

There’s an old solution for some of the toughest challenges facing today’s US labor market, including a lack of skilled workers, inequitable access to well-paying jobs and an aging workforce: apprenticeships. That’s according to our WorkforceRx guest, Dr. Mardy Leathers, executive director of Apprenticeships for America. “Apprenticeship programs are great at upskilling, they’re great at supporting incumbent workers and they are great at preparing people as they enter the workforce,” he tells Futuro Health CEO Van Ton-Quinlivan. While apprenticeships have been a popular model for work-based learning for centuries in Europe and elsewhere, the US has never fully embraced them. Changing that, Leathers says, will require the expansion of intermediaries — organizations that design and register apprenticeship programs and provide support to learners and employers throughout the experience. “Employers can’t do it on their own. If someone can help them navigate the process, they are much more likely to lean in.” Don’t miss a great learning opportunity that might change your perceptions of apprenticeships, help you understand the standards and criteria involved, and introduce you to new funding models and ways of seeing their value to employers.

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Troy Clark, President & CEO of the New Mexico Hospital Association: Growing Your Own Healthcare Workforce

EP64 WorkforceRx Podcast Troy Clark

Worsening staff shortages in healthcare are prompting some big shifts in how hospitals are approaching the issue, and New Mexico is a good case in point. As we learn from today’s WorkforceRx guest, Troy Clark, who runs the state’s hospital association, a traditionally competitive mindset is yielding to a more collaborative approach. “We have this limited workforce that we’re all fighting for, and our history has been…am I a better recruiter or not? Yet, what we learned and succeeded at very well in New Mexico during the pandemic was that when we collaborate, we can still compete and we will all win,” he tells Futuro Health CEO Van Ton-Quinlivan. Additionally, his members are realizing they have substantial disadvantages in competing against hospitals in other states for a limited supply of workers, so they are adopting a “grow your own” strategy instead. Elements include working with the state and other partners to expand clinical learning opportunities, encouraging community colleges to leverage remote learning technology to serve remote parts of the state, and getting more people from a diverse set of communities interested in healthcare careers in the first place. Tune in as Van and Troy explore other solutions including redesigning care teams and educating people about the many non-clinical roles available in the space.

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Sameer Gadkaree, President & CEO of The Institute for College Access and Success:  Creating Paths To Debt-Free College

EP63 WorkforceRx Podcast Sameer Gadkaree

“We’re asking students effectively to take a bet on themselves and what we have seen in recent years is the growing problem of debt that doesn’t pay off for them,” says Sameer Gadkaree, President & CEO of The Institute for College Access and Success. Among the 44 million Americans affected, the debt load is $30,000 for the average borrower, including those who did not complete their certificate program or degree. As Gadkaree points out to Futuro Health CEO Van Ton-Quinlivan, risk in the higher education system has gradually been shifted over several decades to students and their families. A big part of the solution, he says, is building debt-free paths to college by stitching together existing local, state and federal programs and supplementing financial support as needed. But the answer also needs to include a variety of tools to help students to completion such as advising, social supports and making sure they are receiving food assistance and other benefits for which they qualify. Gadkaree cites several programs across the country that are doubling graduation rates by taking this approach, and hopes that others working on these daunting challenges will pause to celebrate successes and look at the larger trends. “I think there’s a growing awareness of the harms of student debt, the challenges that it creates for our borrowers and that we really need to change if we’re going to achieve greater racial equity and economic mobility.”

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Matthew Rascoff, Vice Provost of Digital Education at Stanford University: EdTech Bright Spots for Collaborative Learning

EP62 WorkforceRx Matthew Rascoff

While it will be years before researchers can render a verdict on how the wholesale shift to online learning during COVID impacted student performance, it’s already clear that in higher education, post-pandemic use of education technology and positively attitudes about it have both increased. Research also shows that professors and students expect more use of digital course materials and technology going forward. Our guest on this episode of WorkforceRx, Matthew Rascoff, is keeping a close eye on these trends as vice provost for Digital Education at Stanford University. “Part of the legacy of the pandemic is the plurality of approaches that are now available to instructors. It’s important to start with the needs of our learners and work our way backwards to the modality that will meet those needs most effectively,” he tells Futuro Health CEO Van Ton-Quinlivan. Rascoff is encouraged by what he calls a huge wave of entrepreneurship in learning technology, some of which will be advanced by his students at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. “They have really amazing ideas for what that future is going to look like and I hope it is a more inclusive technology environment designed to serve learners who have been underserved in the past.” Learn about a new asynchronous platform to build learning communities; a free, online model for small group book discussions; and a non-profit “bootcamp” that builds both job skills and social capital. Plus, Matthew and Van discuss the emergence of AI tutors, and a program that offers Stanford courses for credit to Title I high schools across the country.

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Paul Fain, Higher Education Journalist: Experiential Learning Gains Traction

EP61 WorkforceRx Podcast Paul Fain

“I haven’t really seen that much in my career as a journalist where California and Alabama are rowing in the same direction. I do think workforce development is that rare issue that cuts through some of the partisan noise,” says Paul Fain, a veteran observer of higher education and workforce training. His weekly newsletter, The Job, focuses on the nexus between education and work, so he is always on the hunt for what’s new and interesting in these fields. As he shares with Futuro Health CEO Van Ton-Quinlivan, one area that stands out is the growth in experiential learning and career exploration through simulations and micro-internships. “One company I looked at offers learning simulations to college students that are designed by companies so the student can decide ‘Am I good at this? Do I like this?’” Another area of new energy is based on a very old model: apprenticeships. “Apprenticeships are hot. You’re seeing lots of C-suite excitement about them. That said, we spend a tiny proportion of public funding on apprenticeships relative to traditional higher education.” Overall, Fain senses growing urgency among business leaders that growing income equality is an existential threat to our economy and society, a view he shares. Tune in for a wealth of insights into what Fain calls “one of the biggest stories of my career.”

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Brent Orrell, Senior Fellow at The American Enterprise Institute: The Rare Gem in Workforce Development

EP60_WorkforceRx_Podcast_Brent Orrell

“The evidence is very sparse when it comes to effective practice in the workforce development field,” says Brent Orrell of The American Enterprise Institute. This concerning conclusion comes from the Workforce Futures Initiative, a collaborative project between AEI, the Brookings Institution and the Harvard Kennedy School Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy. But it’s not all bad news. The strong exception is sector-based training. “That is one of the rare gems where we can say with relative certainty that if workforce development practitioners do this approach in the right way, they can get good results.” As Orrell explains to Futuro Health CEO Van Ton-Quinlivan, the strength of this model derives from integrating technical skills training with instruction in so-called “soft skills” which are essential to being able to succeed in the workplace. The result is dramatic and continued increases in wages that lead to family-sustaining incomes. Orrell also credits these programs with doing a better job at keeping trainees engaged through to completion than is typically the case at community colleges which, he says, badly need a boost in the number of educational and career advising staff. Be sure to check out this thoughtful discussion on what works in workforce development, the extra responsibility Americans have to put their skills to work at the highest level, and why we shouldn’t be afraid of generative AI.

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Sandra Hernandez, CEO of California Health Care Foundation: Improving Access to Care Through Smart Workforce Strategies

EP59_WorkforceRx_Podcast_Sandra_Hernandez

What’s the value of having health insurance if you can’t access care? That’s an increasingly pertinent question for states which have successfully expanded insurance eligibility in recent years but are struggling to meet the increasing demand for healthcare. Our guest today on WorkforceRx, Dr. Sandra Hernandez, is a key player in developing solutions to this problem in her role as president and CEO of the California Health Care Foundation. One approach is to use the current workforce strategically. “We’re very focused on looking at the primary care model and the composition of the primary care team so we can use every drop of workforce that we have to its fullest capabilities.” In part, that means reserving physician time for complex cases while expanding the scope for practice for nurses and mid-level providers. Another strategy is beefing up the ranks of community health workers drawn from underserved communities. As Hernandez tells Futuro Health CEO Van Ton-Quinlivan, they have proven to be valuable public health advocates due to the trusting relationships they can build. “They can share information that is scientifically-based, and at the same time they are able to encourage people to get enrolled in the programs that they’re eligible for and get them into earlier care.” Don’t miss this veteran perspective on vexing issues facing many areas of the US — including how to care for growing numbers of immigrants and the unsheltered — and stay tuned for a dose of optimism rooted in lessons learned from the pandemic.

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Allen Blue, Co-Founder of LinkedIn: Leveraging 900M Career Profiles for Employment Insights

Allen Blue, Co-Founder of LinkedIn: Leveraging 900M Career Profiles for Employment Insights

It’s safe to say that nearly everyone reading this has a profile on LinkedIn or, if not, has visited it to learn about someone else’s career history. The social media giant has 900 million registered members worldwide and has become an essential tool for employers, job seekers and entrepreneurs. On this episode of WorkforceRx we’ll hear from one of LinkedIn’s founders, Allen Blue, who has stayed with the company for its entire twenty-year history and is now serving as vice president of Product Management. His areas of focus include LinkedIn’s Economic Graph, which involves sharing economic data with governments and institutions to improve education and workforce policy. “We derive insights about how skills are emerging and changing, about the landscape of education, about new technologies…and we aggregate all that data and go talk to policymakers so that governments can act.” In this thoughtful conversation with Futuro Health CEO Van Ton-Quinlivan, Blue highlights ways people can use LinkedIn to visualize a career path, how technology can be deployed to connect employers to potential workers, and the growing opportunities online to deliver education and training. “That’s something which basically didn’t exist, not in a serious way, even ten years ago. So, it’s a huge opportunity.” Whether you are an employer, job seeker, educator or looking for career advancement, there is much to learn from this social media pioneer.

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Mark Burns, Executive Director of Homebridge: Innovative Retention Strategies in Home Care

Mark Burns, Executive Director of Homebridge: Innovative Retention Strategies in Home Care

Most home care workers are women of color working more than one job, struggling to afford childcare, and doing difficult work without any prospects for advancement. It’s no wonder, then, that it’s hard to find and retain workers for these critically needed positions. Making matters worse is a competitive job market for entry level workers which means people can find less taxing positions for the same pay. That’s why today’s WorkforceRx guest, Mark Burns, is so pleased to be involved in California’s new $200 million Career Pathways program which is designed to increase wages, skill levels and career mobility for this workforce. As Executive Director of the San Francisco-based Homebridge home care agency and a key leader in the Career Pathways initiative, Burns is hoping to reach up to 250,000 Californians with paid training classes across the state. “Having any training available is fairly rare for this population, but having paid training is almost unheard of, so we’re thrilled,” he tells Van Ton-Quinlivan, CEO of Futuro Health, which is contributing asynchronous training options to the effort. On a parallel track to Career Pathways, Burns is busy transitioning Homebridge to an employment model that offers progressive wage increases as workers gain skills, with an eye on professionalizing the occupation. “People know innately that they’re adding a great deal of value that is of a professional scale that helps with people’s wellness and helps them stay stable in the community, but there’s no system of validation for that.” Don’t miss this chance for a detailed look at leading edge innovations in home care workforce development that could stabilize and improve access to care for some of the most vulnerable members of our communities.

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Matt Sigelman, President of The Burning Glass Institute: Connecting Skills to Opportunity

Matt Sigelman, President of The Burning Glass Institute: Connecting Skills to Opportunity

“One of the things we’ve found is that the average U.S. job has seen 37% of its skills replaced in just the last five years,” says Matt Sigelman, one of the country’s leading labor market experts. That blistering pace of change begs the question of how workers and employers are going to acquire new skills on a such a rapid and continuing basis. That’s exactly the type of challenge Sigelman and his colleagues tackle at The Burning Glass Institute, a nonprofit research center that explores data for fresh insights and tools employers, workers, educators and policymakers can use to build mobility, opportunity and equity. One such tool is a brand-new Skills Compass developed with Coursera which enables multi-dimensional evaluation of the emerging skills that will yield the most value. But Sigelman cautions against focusing just on of-the-moment-skills in favor of a more balanced approach. “You need timely skills to get on the career ladder, but you’re going to need timeless skills like critical thinking and collaboration to rise.” Join WorkforceRx host and Futuro Health CEO Van Ton-Quinlivan for a super informative scan of these and other key questions confronting the labor economy such as skills-based hiring, career mobility and the implications of increasingly powerful chat bots.

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