With funding support and convening assistance from Yesler Community Collaborative, several Seattle-area organizations have come together to forge an innovative, collaborative approach to workforce development in healthcare.

Using the Seattle Housing Authority’s Job Shadowing Program as proof of concept, the Housing Authority, Keiro Northwest, Seattle Jobs initiative and others are seeking funding for an innovative program to train low-income residents of subsidized housing in the skills needed to obtain jobs in the growing field of healthcare.

The goal is not only to prepare people to enter the workforce, but also to provide on-going training and upward mobility. Thus, employees will be able to move from providing basic health care services in a skilled nursing facility to higher skill positions with an acute care provider such as a hospital.  Both types of employers benefit. The skilled nursing facilities will be able to keep entry level employees longer, thereby getting a good return on their training investment. The hospitals will have a pipeline of well-trained, experienced employees for their positions.

Doris Koo (L) with Jeff Hattori, Ron Jenkins and John Kim

Ron Jenkins from the Seattle Housing Authority, Jeffrey Hattori from Keiro Northwest and John Kim from Seattle Jobs Initiative recently presented this concept to a meeting of YCC partners. They have been working together over the past year to help develop this new model.

In 2015, the first Job Shadowing program partners included Seattle Central College, Harborview and Swedish Medical Centers, and the City of Seattle. The program offered 14 Yesler Terrace adult residents the opportunity to take an ESL class taught by a Seattle Central College instructor. This language training, which focused on job-specific vocabulary, was coupled with 150 hours of paid ($13.00/hr.) job shadowing experience for each participant.

Eleven of the initial 14 participants are working today, most in a field related to their job shadowing. Four work in food service positions, three in janitorial positions, two in home-care positions, one as an Uber driver and one as an SHA Industrial Sewing Program Assistant.

For the second cohort in Fall 2016, the partnership was expanded. New partners included The Northwest School, Skyline, Keiro Northwest and Horizon House.

Eight out of the fourteen participants in the 2016 cohort are working today, most in a field related to their job shadowing. Unlike the first cohort, five participants were offered jobs at the place they job shadowed; Harborview and the City of Seattle each offered one participant a job, and Keiro Northwest offered jobs to three participants!

The Healthcare Workforce Development Cohort is looking to go beyond traditional recruitment and retention strategies to provide career pathways to healthcare workers along a broader spectrum of skill levels and employers