(Alexandria, Va.) – The Healthcare Apprenticeship Expansion Program (HAEP) has now supported more than 1,500 apprenticeships and is credited for opening doors by its employee partners, according to an announcement today at the 2021 Senior Living Executive Conference & Expo in Phoenix.
Argentum is the lead applicant and fiscal agent for the $6 million project, which is being funded by a four-year U.S. Department of Labor–Employment and Training Administration Closing the Skills Gap grant. The program has garnered 12 employee partners, with Bickford Senior Living and Nazareth Home added this year, and it is registered in 23 states. Intentional recruitment from underserved and underrepresented populations has led to a participation rate of 38 percent persons of color, as of June 30. Also as of that date, the program holds an 85 percent retention rate.
The HAEP collaborative addresses the skills gap in health care and health care IT occupations by expanding apprenticeship pathways for positions including CNAs, LPNs, RNs, and rehab technicians. In addition, it is creating new apprenticeship programs for health care leadership positions such as nursing directors and executive directors. Argentum and its partners plan to enroll and support over 7,200 apprentices by February 2024.
Organizations moving forward
Participating organizations can, within certain boundaries, shape their programs to fit their needs and cultures. Virginia Health Services, which started the program early this year, had existing career paths in place for certified nurse assistants (CNAs) and licensed professional nurses (LPNs), but through HAEP is able to expand career pathing beyond clinical to culinary and other senior living skill areas.
“It opened a lot of different doors to resources for our team,” says Mark F. Klyczek, Virginia Health Services president and CEO. “For instance, we’re better connected with our state department of labor and the military job programs in the area.”
One organization behind the program’s growth is Kindred Healthcare, which has 237 apprentices, after starting the program in June 2020. The company has created a role called an apprentice team lead; these employees serve as mentors to apprentices and in the process further their own leadership skills. Kindred also requires that apprentices complete a capstone project; one CNA made an instructional video demonstrating proper cleaning and preparation of a room, for instance, and others create poster presentations.
“We hoped this would give staff more confidence, more leadership, and more buy-in, and that’s exactly what’s happening,” says Laura Dailey, PhD, manager of apprenticeship programs at Kindred Healthcare.
Bickford Senior Living has extended its program, called Bickford Career Ladders, to all nurse assistants. The goal, says Christy Dienstbier, vice president of employee support, “is to offer career ladders for every position within the organization, up to divisional director positions.”
Mentorship is also carefully cultivated: Bickford calls its mentors “Black Pearls,” Dienstbier says, “because black pearls are rare, and our mentors are the rare type of person who both excels at their position and can lead and teach others.”
Critical support partners
A unique benefit of the HAEP program is apprentice access to support services provided by Family Scholar House (FSH), a key partner in the project. FSH coaches help with challenges such as access to childcare, emergency help, career coaching, and life skills training—a “safety net” so apprentices can focus on their learning and growth. Nearly 400 requests for emergency services have been met, as of June 30.
In addition, workforce development solution TalentGro, a division of Hamilton-Ryker®, serves as the apprenticeship intermediary to help HAEP employers launch and sustain their programs, recruit apprentices, and adhere to federal reporting requirements.
The current cohort is eligible to receive training reimbursements to cover a portion of apprentice training costs, which have been primarily focused on training caregivers, certified nursing assistants, and licensed professional nurses. Additional benefits are available to employers designated as small businesses, which is defined by the funding sources as having 50 or fewer employees.
To learn more about HAEP and apprenticeship, visit argentum.org/haep.
Argentum is the leading national association exclusively dedicated to supporting companies operating professionally managed, resident-centered senior living communities and the older adults and families they serve. Since 1990, Argentum has advocated for choice, independence, dignity, and quality of life for all older adults.
Argentum member companies operate senior living communities offering assisted living, independent living, continuing care, and memory care services. Along with its state partners, Argentum’s membership represents approximately 75 percent of the senior living industry—an industry with a national economic impact of nearly a quarter of a trillion dollars and responsible for providing over 1.6 million jobs. These numbers will continue to grow as the U.S. population ages.
Argentum’s programs and initiatives are driven by its membership. For more information about joining Argentum, please visit argentum.org/membership. Learn more at argentum.org.