The U.S Department of Education Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education released a report in February, 2015 entitled: “Making Skills Everyone’s Business.”
At Health Professions Network, that’s exactly what we plan to do.
The report identified several issues and benefits related to correcting the massive skills deficit in the collective workforce. Here’s just one example:
Americans with low skills face much higher odds of poor health than their counterparts in other industrialized countries. “Up-skilling” low-skilled workers will boost productivity directly via more skilled labor, and indirectly by improving their their health, also saving substantial amounts in healthcare costs: between $106 and $238 billion annually.
It also outlined strategies for positive change in workforce development, such as:
1. Act Collectively to Raise Awareness and Take Joint Ownership of Solutions.
A ‘backbone’ coordination organization keeps lines of communication open, builds relationships and trust among the partners, and takes the lead in coordinating everyone’s joint and complementary efforts.
In organizing change for health career pathways and workforce development, Health Professions Network is that ‘backbone’ organization. HPN is a convening group facilitating communication and collaboration between associations and groups of healthcare professionals, educators, policy makers and employers.
In January 2015, HPN convened a group of representatives, executives and speakers from HPN, NN2, H2P, ASET, CAAHEP, Schools of Allied Health Professions, Health Sciences Consortium, College of Health Sciences, Coalition for Allied Health Leadership, HOSA, Health Force Minnesota, AAMA and Trinity Health to discuss initiatives to improve the outlook for the healthcare professions pipeline.
HPN moved forward from the meeting with an action plan to cross-walk models of foundational competencies for healthcare professionals to create a comprehensive set of competencies and update the original model HPN helped create with the Department of Labor in 2011.
HPN’s Board of Directors has made it a mission to convene stakeholders and interested parties around the topic of foundational competencies going forward, through HPN’s semi-annual conferences and other opportunities as they arise.
Why are competencies so important? Competencies can make a real difference in the workforce, and they are closely tied to the strategies included in the DoE report, like the following:
3. Ensure that All Students Have Access to Highly Effective Teachers, Leaders, and Programs.
College- and career-readiness standards that define what adult students need to know in order to be prepared for the rigors of postsecondary training, employment, and citizenship are crucial in providing all students at all levels the opportunities to acquire the necessary skills to pursue their long-term career aspirations and goals. Additionally, they provide a common vocabulary and shared understanding among educators and the business community to enhance cooperation and articulation between career pathways steps and academic milestones.
Collaborating and shaping core competencies and standards for the healthcare workforce across the board is crucial to developing workforce skills, bridging the divide between educators and healthcare employers, and creating models for career pathways that will be effective.
The foundation of these core competencies will contribute to a system with lateral opportunity, creating more opportunity for workers and a more complete and competent workforce in healthcare.