Rachel Korberg, Families and Workers Fund:  A Once In A Generation Chance To Advance Economic Mobility

According to recent reports from the University of Massachusetts and the US Department of Energy, the Biden administration’s historic investments in infrastructure and combatting climate change are already having an impact on the job market and will continue to do so with some economists forecasting the creation of millions of jobs over the next decade in those sectors. Harnessing these investments to boost economic mobility is a key focus of our WorkforceRx guest, Rachel Korberg, executive director and co-founder of the Families and Workers Fund, a coalition of philanthropies led by the Ford Foundation and Schmidt Futures. “We’re all working together with the idea that this is a really once in a generation opening to advance economic mobility for all,” she tells Futuro Health CEO Van Ton-Quinlivan. The goal is ambitious: to create upwardly mobile careers for one million people who are typically locked out of such opportunities by investing in models for training and retention, creating strategic partnerships and helping employers and government with the resources needed for “high road” training. The Fund has also created a formal role for frontline workers to make sure their perspective is on an equal footing with the Funder Advisory Board. “They’ve shaped millions of dollars in our grant making. For me, it really represents how I think philanthropy should be done.” Join us for a fascinating look at an innovative collective impact model and be sure to stay tuned to learn about three things the Fund looks for when reviewing grant proposals.

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Parvati Dev, CEO of SimTabs: When to Use Virtual Simulation in Healthcare Training

The use of simulation in healthcare training used to be confined to actors posing as patients and the use of medical mannequins. But the options have grown far beyond that to include 3D virtual reality, augmented reality, and game-based learning, among other approaches. On this episode of WorkforceRx, we’re going to get an overview of the space with one of its leading experts, Dr. Parvati Dev, CEO of SimTabs. Dr. Dev has four decades of experience developing tech solutions for life sciences education in industry and academia, including groundbreaking work at Stanford University. While she’s seen many useful applications for virtual simulation in healthcare training, focusing on critical tasks where failure can happen – for instance a tricky part of a surgery – is at the top of the list. “You can practice just that segment of that procedure. They don’t need to do the whole procedure again and again. That kind of high stakes training is not happening as often as it probably should,” she tells Futuro Health CEO Van Ton-Quinlivan. In this enlightening conversation, Dr. Dev offers advice on how to decide when simulation is the right tool, shares her views on the extent to which simulation can replace in-person clinical training, and offers a vision for how, with the help of AI, an ecosystem of training tools can be created to move the industry to a higher level of impact.

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Carissa Moffat Miller, CEO of the Council of Chief State School Officers: Imagining a Modernized K-12 System

While there’s little that matches the excitement a new school year brings, it’s tempered somewhat this year by the need to continue recovering from the many disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Learning loss, declining enrollments and increases in behavioral problems are just a few of the issues that education leaders are grappling with. Our WorkforceRx guest, Carissa Moffat Miller, is in the thick of efforts to help school system leaders find potential solutions as CEO of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). “This disruption has created an opportunity for us to think about things differently, and for state chiefs to change the ecosystem of school,” she tells Futuro Health CEO Van Ton-Quinlivan. There are some new programmatic options to consider in doing that thanks to $190 billion in federal funding that allowed states to experiment with different approaches to tutoring, after school programs and digital learning, among other initiatives. One of CCSSO’s key roles, Moffat Miller says, is sharing examples of what worked coming out of that process and highlighting best practices on a continuing basis. And while keeping a close eye on recovery, her members are also looking forward as reflected in the new report Imagining More: How State Education Agencies Can Modernize the K-12 System. “The chiefs see their role as setting conditions and clearing a path for districts who are ready to take the next step.” Tune in to hear examples of what’s working across the country to improve K-12 education and what role employers can play in supporting state education goals.

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Tanya Harris, Aspen Institute Health Innovators Fellowship: Fostering Collaboration to Improve Healthcare

“Healthcare is just so large and complex and expensive. We’ve got to find better ways to reach across political divides, ideological disagreements and narrow, sector-based perspectives,” says Tanya Harris, who runs the Health Innovators Fellowship at the Aspen Institute which is designed to do just that. The program provides a diverse group of mid-career professionals with the opportunity to do the kind of connecting and thinking that’s not possible in the rush of daily life. “They’re away from family, they’re away from work and they’re in this big space so they can think differently. People take bigger bets in their own professional journey than they might have otherwise,” she explains to Futuro Heath CEO Van Ton-Quinlivan. Examples include fellows coming together to tackle subjects as wide-ranging as adolescent mental health, supply chain innovation and health equity. One current fellow is a fire chief trying to meet the challenge of overwhelmed hospital emergency rooms. “It’s a really impressive group of folks that have been in, and continue to be in, this fellowship, and the possibilities are really endless.” This engaging conversation is a great opportunity to learn about efforts to foster greater coordination in the U.S. healthcare system and the importance of aligning incentives to achieve better outcomes.

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

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

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

“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

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

“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

“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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