Employer Roles in Building Pipelines for Middle-Skill Jobs in Healthcare

Author(s): Loprest, Pamela; Briggs, Amanda; and Mikelson, Kelly.

Organizational Author(s): The Urban Institute: Income and Benefits Policy Center

Funding Source: JP Morgan Chase

Resource Availability: Publicly available

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Synthesizes data from employer interviews to describe leading practices that employers and partners use to prepare workers for middle-skill healthcare jobs; and describes the motivations for and challenges associated with establishing employer partnerships and the strategies for organizations interested in building pipelines to middle-skill jobs.


“Workforce development literature suggests that successfully building pipelines to middle-skill jobs in the health care sector requires employer involvement….Over the past decade, health care employers have increasingly engaged in initiatives to build a pipeline. Employers are designing and updating training curricula, providing work-readiness training and internships, hiring workers in entry-level health care jobs with the goal of promoting from within, and helping incumbent workers advance by changing internal workforce practices for training, retention, and promotion. Such efforts have often been in partnership with other training, education, or community-based organizations and as part of sector-based industry partnerships.…

While past research has examined these partnerships and how employers are engaged, this report adds to our understanding by focusing on employers’ perspectives of their role in workforce initiatives to create pipelines to middle-skill jobs” (p.v). “[The] report draws on [a dozen] interviews with health care employers and partner organizations…[that] provide unique perspectives from their long history of involvement in this area” (p.2). They represent “various…types of health care employers, and types of partnerships…including health care providers, hospitals, long-term care providers, home health agencies, and health care systems with multiple facilities and providers” (p.2). The authors also examine challenges in initiating and sustaining partnerships and present “several implications relevant for employers and other organizations seeking to start, enter, or fund health care industry partnerships to build middle-skill pipelines” (p.viii).

(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

Major Findings & Recommendations

The authors provide examples of the ways in which “employers work with partners to prepare workers for middle-skill jobs and build pipelines of workers” (p.9). The authors describe “initiatives that go beyond hiring workers, where employers are leading or being strong partners by
• investing in entry-level skill training,
• developing incumbent worker training,
• providing retention specialists and coaching,
• developing new worker roles, and
• creating industry partnerships” (p.9).

Drawing from interviews, the authors report employers’ “motivations for engaging in these activities, their roles in and thoughts on industry sector partnerships, and their perspectives on other partners’ roles in these initiatives” (p.20). Employers interviewed “valued industry partnerships because partnerships
• have the capacity to develop new initiatives while relying heavily on employer input;
• keep track of the players in the workforce system, building and maintain relationships;
• make it easy for employers to participate in new initiatives, from raising funds to structuring involvement to facilitating reporting requirements;
• provide a venue for developing employer collaboration and exchanging information with nonemployers; and
• facilitate employers working to create systemwide change beyond individual initiatives” (p.23).

The authors found several challenges “to employer participation in partnerships to build middle-skill pipelines,” including: cost concerns, changes in healthcare delivery, the time required to develop partner relationships, and lack of participation from supervisors and managers in various departments.
Lastly, the authors “draw from these employer perspectives implications relevant for employer and nonemployer organizations seeking to enter or fund health care employer partnerships to build pipelines for workers to middle-skill jobs” (p.31):
• “Be knowledgeable about health care employer needs” (p.31).
• “Assess the relative advantages of different partners” (p.31).
• “Understand it takes time to build employer partnerships” (p.31).
• “Plan to measure outcomes” (p.32).
• “Leverage funding” (p. 32).

(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

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Workforce System Strategies Content Information

Content Type: Resource
Target Populations: Employers - All

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Views: 48
Publication Date: 2017
Posted: 4/13/2018 5:34 PM
Posted In: Workforce System Strategies
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