Dr. Jill Biden and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis kicked off a three-day “Community College to Career” bus tour yesterday to highlight the unique role community colleges play in developing a flexible, highly-skilled 21st-century workforce to meet emerging regional business needs. Secretary Solis is writing updates on the trip from the road.
We just saw the great things happening in Cincinnati to train up our next generation of nurses. The average age of the registered nurse is climbing. There are more nurses in their 50s right now than any other age range. They account for almost one-quarter of our nursing workforce. So it’s critical that we prepare for these retirements and train up our next generation of nurses.
Many schools across the country have struggled to meet the rising need for more nursing professionals. With the passage of the Affordable Care Act, more than 32 million Americans will soon gain access to healthcare services, including access to care provided by registered nurses.
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing found that nursing schools turned away more than 67,000 qualified applicants in 2010 due to insufficient number of faculty, clinical sites, classroom space, and budget constraints. Nine years ago, in response to the urgent nursing shortage, Cincinnati State Technical and Community College began a health careers collaborative with local hospitals. The goal was to train up local workers for entry-level health care jobs like office assistants and medical coders—and help incumbent workers who wanted to continue their education and perhaps become nurses.
Hospitals like Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, TriHealth, Mercy Health Partners and University Hospital all signed on. So did the Southwest Ohio Region Workforce Investment Board and a number of local nonprofits.
These partners agreed to give trainees the flexibility, support and coaching they needed to continue their education.
Now, the Cincinnati State collaboration is a national model that recently shared in a $19.7 million Department of Labor grant to replicate its winning model nationally. Those who care about fiscal responsibility, take note: This project was named by the U.S. Government Accountability Office as one of 14 best national collaborations between workforce boards and employers.
Share your story about how community colleges and industry partners are working together in your community and learn more about the "Community College to Career" bus tour at http://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/communitycollege/tour, and follow and engage with the tour on Twitter using the hashtag #CCtour.
You can see more of Secretary Solis' posts at Work in Progress, the Department of Labor's official blog.