NORTH RIDGEVILLE - Lorain County Community College has made entering the healthcare field a little easier with a new apprenticeship program.
The college unveiled its Healthcare Apprenticeship Pathway Program during a ceremony Sept. 10 at LCCC’s Ridge Campus in North Ridgeville.
"Apprentice programs are valuable recruitment and retention tools for employers to use to build their talent pipelines," LCCC President Marcia Ballinger told about 75 people, including state and local officials. "We're confident that healthcare apprenticeships will provide additional benefits to our students seeking employment in one of the many healthcare-related careers in Northeast Ohio."
The program is critical as the country’s population ages. Baby boomers are turning 65 at a faster rate than teens are turning 18 and by 2030, there will be slightly more than 2 million people in the U.S. older than 65 compared to those under 18, according to the U.S. Census 2017 national population projections. Healthcare professionals who can provide in-home and long-term care and other allied healthcare services are in demand.
The program offers apprenticeship opportunities for regional healthcare employers and students starting with state trained nursing assistant positions. STNA apprentices completing the program will earn 15 college credits with tuition assistance, receive 2,000 hours of paid on-the-job training and earn an industry-recognized credential with the opportunity to continue their education on a path from STNA to licensed practical nurse to registered nurse. The college is developing additional healthcare apprenticeship opportunities that include EMS to paramedic to RN.
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, Ohio Chancellor of Higher Education Randy Gardner and college officials touted the benefits of the Healthcare Apprenticeship Pathway Plan and how offering apprenticeships will help get students into healthcare jobs. They believe students will gain an edge in the workforce and think the program will be a model for other community colleges in Ohio.
"Healthcare apprenticeships are a strong model for the future to help people break into the healthcare industry and supply employers with the talent they need to provide better care to Ohio patients,” Husted said. “I applaud Lorain County Community College for leading on this issue and helping to solve critical workforce needs in Northeast Ohio."
The program aims to provide employers with qualified healthcare workers and increase retention in the competitive field. Students will get practical experience as they begin building their career paths.
In June, the Department of Labor awarded LCCC a $12 million Scaling Apprenticeship Through Sector-Based Strategies grant. LCCC was the lead applicant for the grant in collaboration with Ohio TechNet and the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association.
The funding will help address Ohio’s workforce shortage and skills gap in manufacturing. The state’s goal is for 65% of Ohioans to have a recognized credential or degree by 2025.
The college also has partnered with LeadingAge Ohio, a nonprofit trade association that represents 400 long-term care organizations and hospice centers. LeadingAge will help employers develop and implement apprenticeships.
Last month, Lutheran Home in Westlake and Wesleyan Village in Elyria were the first two to sign on with LCCC's apprentice program.
"It's a win-win for us and the students," said Karen Debro, vice president of human resources for Lutheran Home. "It provides the students hands-on experience, and if they complete their courses and requirements, they have better chances of getting hired. The program is a good concept."
Kathleen Colohan, director of human resources for Mercy Health's Lorain market, said it is challenging to retain RNs in Northeast Ohio. She also said it’s important to inform high school students about their career options.
"We need to spark an interest early on," Colohan said. "We need to show them what opportunities are available and help them understand apprenticeships are a valuable tool to get you started working in your career."
Healthcare organizations interested in becoming a partner in LCCC's First Healthcare Pathway Apprenticeship Program may contact Chrissy Cooney, LCCC's business engagement coordinator and workforce outreach specialist, at 440-366-4325 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Tamara Jenkins, LCCC's manager of business engagement, at 440-366-4833 or email@example.com.
Contact this reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 440-871-5797.