Collaboration, funded by New York State grant, aims to close skills gap between employer needs, skills of current workforce
Through a workforce development in long-term care grant from New York State, The McGuire Group, 1199SEIU Upstate health care union and Trocaire College are collaborating on an apprenticeship program to help close skills gaps within the nursing workforce.
Currently, 10 union-certified nursing assistants (CNA) working at McGuire have enrolled in the practical nursing program at Trocaire to pursue an advanced nursing degree.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Apprenticeships: Closing the Skills Gaps funding opportunity is also supporting the collaboration. The purpose of the two-year program is to promote apprenticeships as a significant workforce solution in filling current middle- and high-skilled job vacancies and closing the skills gap between employer workforce needs and the skills of the current workforce.
“The students’ range of experience varies from one year to greater than 18 years, and all have been tremendously engaged in the program,” said Dana Mata, R.N., AAS, BS, nurse manager for The McGuire Group. “The apprenticeship curriculum includes coursework in a wide range of topics from regulatory, quality management and leadership training to application of clinical skills taught in their nursing program. The program also includes integrating McGuire policies and process already in place and continuing with the McGuire mission of providing quality care in all of our facilities.”
In order to be eligible to participate in the apprenticeship program, the students had to have worked for at least one year at McGuire in addition to meeting academic thresholds.
As part of the collaboration, Trocaire provides the practical nursing curriculum and support services. 1199SEIU facilitates testing used for screening, tutoring and processes all the tuition payments. In addition to employment, McGuire also provides the on-the job training. The students’ school hours and training substitute for their work hours. The students are also working at least one shift per week at their facility.
“The students in the program had been away from school for a long time and were scared and overwhelmed. With classes going remote due to the pandemic, many also needed to learn new technologies,” said Jennifer Blickwedehl, Ph.D., associate dean for curriculum and instruction and program director, general studies, Trocaire College. “With all that, in addition to the stress COVID-19 added to their workload, they are all doing amazingly well and have been a wonderful addition to the classroom.”
The students started classes in the spring. Some started with prerequisites, and others were admitted directly into the practical nursing program. The students recently started summer school and anticipate earning their degrees at the end of the spring 2021 semester. Following completion of the program and passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), the students will be promoted to practical nurses with McGuire.
“My dream has always been to be in the medical field to help people live out their lives as best as possible, and this LPN apprenticeship program is an amazing opportunity for me to be able to get an education to further my career while still being able to help care for my family financially,” said Deina Neff of Youngstown, CNA at The McGuire Group, Northgate Health Care Facility, North Tonawanda. “Without this program, many people, including myself, could never do this program alone. With The McGuire Group, 1199SEIU and Trocaire, we have all the support we will ever need.”