Training Today’s Workers to Up-Skill America

Four medical personnel working at a table together

We often hear that jobs are being outsourced overseas, and how by 2020 we will have a shortage of workers in the STEM fields. So it is nice for a change to hear that many organizations are working together to help upskill existing workforces. Fred Dedrick, Executive Director of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, chatted with me recently about what they are doing in conjunction with UpSkill America, workforce boards, community centers, and industry professionals to form regional partnerships that help organizations train existing workers to help them advance in their careers. This is important because it impacts our communities and makes them more prosperous.



One thing we chatted about that didn’t make it into the podcast was their work in forming the national partnership called CareerSTAT. Here’s what Fred said about the program.

“In the first few years of our operation, a lot of the work that we did was involved with hospitals. Hospitals were one of the few organizations that during the recession from 2008 to 2010 was actually still hiring people. So we wound up with some very good relationships with hospitals and our local sites helped to bring together a number of healthcare partnerships. Out of those healthcare partnerships, a number of local leaders emerged with a desire to do something nationally. They wanted to do two things:

  1. Spread the word about how they could share the exemplary practices that they had developed on retaining and advancing incumbent workers. One of the things that hospitals do better than most industries is that they try to help their current employees advance up the wage scale within their institutions. They want to see the maintenance worker, the food service worker, or the transport worker, move into the clinical side of the operation and become a nurse assistant, medical assistant, or a radiology technician. Administrators within the hospitals want to retain those folks and they know that it is very difficult to retain them if there is no clear pathway for improvement. So they had developed a set of practices that proved very successful and they wanted to share them with other hospitals across the country.
  2. In addition they wanted to have an impact on policy within the national government. So they said let’s come together to see if we can form a national partnership of hospital employers and invite other healthcare institutions like long-term care or community health centers.

“About three years ago, in Baltimore, we formed CareerSTAT. We started with about 20 to 25 hospitals from around the country, and now it is almost up to 75 hospitals. We have another 75 partners, within CareerSTAT, who are not hospitals but are involved in the same kind of work like workforce investment boards, training centers, or community colleges.

“CareerSTAT now has an annual effort in which it recognizes what they call Frontline Health Care Worker Champions. These are health care providers  that have exhibited a special set of initiatives that advances workers within their own organizations. Now they are working more aggressively to get the attention of the federal government to address the fact that there needs to be better attention to the training of healthcare workers so that more people can move up within the industry. The Affordable Care Act has put tremendous pressure on a lot of institutions and many are upskilling their workers to meet rising demands. CareerSTAT is doing quite well and continues to grow.”

For more information about these partnerships and initiatives visit the National Fund for Workforce Solution’s website. You can see if your community is already represented in their network. If it is not part of the network, the best place to start is within your own community to seek out the other economic development organizations like The United Way, The Workforce Investment Board, and try to determine if any of them are already involved in a regional effort at upskilling because you might find that there is already something going on in your region. Fred or Jaime Fall from UpSkill America are happy to respond to any inquiries.