Presents findings from a study of Carreras en Salud, a Chicago-based employment and training program in the healthcare field for low-income Latinos which was one of the nine programs evaluated in the 2011–2014 U.S. Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families' Pathways for Advancing Careers and Education study.

“This report documents the implementation and early impacts of the Carreras en Salud (Careers in Health) program…in Chicago, Illinois….A distinctive feature of this program is its focus on training for low-income Latinos for employment in healthcare occupations, primarily Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) and Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). It is among nine career pathways programs being evaluated in the Pathways for Advancing Careers and Education (PACE) study sponsored by the Administration for Children and Families.

The…program consists of five elements: (1) a structured healthcare training pathway, starting at low skill levels; (2) contextualized and accelerated basic skills and ESL instruction; (3) academic advising and non-academic supports; (4) financial assistance; and (5) employment services” (O-i).

“Primary research questions [include:]

1. What intervention was actually implemented? Did it deviate from plans or expectations?
2. What were students’ participation patterns and experiences with program services?
3. What were the effects of Carreras en Salud on educational attainment…?” (p.O-i).

“Almost all jobs in healthcare require some level of postsecondary education or training. But, many low-income, low-skilled adults face considerable barriers to completing even short-term training for entry-level jobs. Many are ‘nontraditional’ students—that is, older, often parents, lacking adequate basic academic skills, and with few economic resources. Being from a minority population, not speaking English as their primary language, and/or being the first in their family to attend college can exacerbate these difficulties in completing the training.

Career pathways programs are designed to address these issues by providing well-articulated training and employment steps targeted to locally in-demand jobs, combined with a range of supports.…[T]o date, limited rigorous research is available on its effects on participants’ educational and economic outcomes” (p.O-i-ii).

The report “estimates…early impacts on educational attainment, career progress, and non-economic outcomes…over an 18-month period after random assignment for the sample of 660 study participants who responded to the follow-up survey” (p.55).

(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

Major Findings & Recommendations

“Carreras produced a nine[ ]percentage point increase in employment in a healthcare occupation….No impacts, however, were detected on working at a job paying at least $12 per hour or on working at a job requiring mid-level skills. Most…students appeared to obtain CNA credentials within the 18-month follow-up, which provide access to relatively low-paying healthcare positions. Thus, it may take time for them to progress to the higher-wage and/or higher-skill jobs available to those with higher levels of training” (p.60). “Carreras increased the hours of education and training received, including occupational training and basic skills and ESL instruction….In addition, Carreras significantly increased credential receipt…from a licensing or certification organization. Finally, the program increased employment in the health care field and reduced the proportion who reported experiencing financial hardship in their lives” (p.63). “Carreras differs from many other career pathways programs in that it was developed for—and exclusively serves—low-income and bilingual Latinos, many of whom have skills levels too low to enroll in and complete college courses. The program nonetheless achieved comparable results to other interventions focused on broader and, in some instances, more college-ready populations, including other programs in PACE” (p.65). “A sizable number of participants…enrolled in the LPN precursors…during the PACE study period without progressing to the LPN course. Continued progression along the career pathway will be an important issue to document in the next phase of the study” (p.65). “Positive findings for the Carreras program suggest that nonprofit organizations based in a community can play a constructive role as part of wider career pathways education and training systems. As a local nonprofit organization, Instituto brought substantial knowledge and skill in working with a particular community; flexibility in program development; and commitment to their mission and to the Carreras program” (p.66). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)