March Job Training Update

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All of the hospital systems we have spoken with have revealed a continuing need for entry-level medical employees. Unfortunately, many people seeking healthcare training are unable to successfully attain certification. Last fall, 881 students dropped out of programs that would lead to medical careers at J Sargeant Reynolds Community College.
“We need these students in fast-paced hospital jobs!” The college’s Dean of Nursing told our research committee in a recent meeting. “They would make some of the best healthcare employees because they can think quickly on their feet and multitask strategically under pressure. The problem is that they are low-income and have little exposure to the post-secondary environment. These students are constantly in crisis situations because of their backgrounds, and those crises—with finances, housing, childcare—create barriers to their success. However, that experience with crisis situations would make them a great asset to hospitals.”
Our goal is to ensure that these types of students—people from Richmond’s low-income neighborhoods with barriers to employment—receive the opportunity to be successful healthcare employees.
Through a partnership among local workforce development agencies, the community college, and VCU and HCA Hospitals,  unemployed or underemployed people from Richmond’s distressed neighborhoods will be hired as entry-level medical employees in jobs such as sterile processing techs, CNAs, and EMTs, and will work and receive support services as they pursue hospital-funded training for higher-level, living-wage jobs at the hospitals such as CMAs (Certified Medical Assistant) or surgical techs. The hospitals will partner with the community college to make low-cost training for these programs a reality, as the only current options involve expensive for-profit college programs.
At this year’s Nehemiah Action, we are hopeful that our consistent, collective effort over the past three years will pay off for our community. In our last meeting with HCA, the CEO said that he would make a commitment to hire people that go through this program. This will ensure unemployed and underemployed people, including those in our congregations who struggle to find living-wage jobs, have the opportunity to pursue training and a ladder out of poverty.  Our jobs research committee is currently working on asks that will be presented at the Nehemiah Action; we need your support at the Action to make sure that the hospitals make clear commitments to help our unemployed neighbors.

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