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Effective training programs for incumbent workers meet workforce needs that benefit employees and contribute to success for employers. After partners identify a possible interest in developing a work-based learning training program, the first step is conducting a business-needs assessment. This assessment identifies very specific human resources needs for specific occupations as well as specific skills and education requirements. These needs can either be immediate or projected for the near future. In either case, they should focus on the employers’ most critical human resources needs.

As the first step toward developing work-based learning, Jobs to Careers projects determine the needs of employers and their employees. To select which positions to target for skill development and advancement, employers identify areas of workforce vacancies and shortages, deficits in important skills, and high-growth areas.


Identifying a Business Need

Portland Project: Defining need for training for long-term care frontline workforce
Executives at Rose Schnitzer Manor, an assisted living facility involved with the Portland, Oregon project site of Jobs to Careers, explain their business reasons for developing more formalized training for frontline caregivers:

Creating Career Pathways for Frontline Health Care Workers
Owensboro Medical Health System anticipated that it would need 500 additional registered nurses for a facility it was building. The community is geographically isolated, and nurses were already in short supply. Clearly, the health system needed to take action. Owensboro Community & Technical College collaborated with OMHS to review the suitability of existing frameworks for obtaining educational credentials and to assess the feasibility of advancing the skills of current workers and equipping them for careers in nursing.

Creating Career Pathways for Frontline Health Care Workers
Business Case PowerPoint
SSTAR Excels

SSTAR, a behavioral health provider in Fall River, Massachusetts, had a financial incentive to train workers as certified addictions counselors: state reimbursement for substance abuse counselor services is higher if those services are provided by a certified counselor. Furthermore, SSTAR’s shortage of certified counselors limited the number of clients it could serve. An organizational business assessment demonstrated significant need and opportunities that could be addressed through training. By demonstrating a strong business case for training, the program was able to obtain buy-in from organizational leadership. According to SSTAR’s executive director, “To the extent we demonstrate that work-based learning solves key organizational problems, it will be sustained beyond the grant.”

Advancing in Health and Health Care Careers--Rung by Rung

’s Jobs to Careers staff undertook a “gap analysis” to determine employer and worker needs for workforce development. In workforce terms, a gap analysis examines both the supply for labor and current and projected job openings. This information helps in identifying where focused change efforts can better link supply and demand. The Baltimore Alliance for Careers in Healthcare’s gap analysis found two important labor supply issues: 43 percent of city residents age 16 and older were not in the workforce, and 31 percent lacked a high school diploma. Meanwhile, Baltimore hospitals had a great need for workers to fill entry-level, minimally skilled positions. BACH’s conclusion was that a successful workforce development strategy would move Baltimore’s unemployed and unskilled workers into those high-demand, entry-level positions. The result was BACH’s career ladders project.

Assessing the Needs of Employers and Workers

Creating Career Pathways for Frontline Health Care Workers
Rather than begin solely with the business case for a career advancement program, the Jobs to Careers nursing home and educational partners in Hartford, Connecticut, approached their needs assessment from both employer and employee perspectives. Its evaluation of the needs of certified nursing assistants in long-term care facilities led to a focus on four areas: clinical skills; basic literacy skills; basic job readiness skills; and awareness of opportunities for skill-building, wage increases, and career advancement.