Jobs to Careers
Transforming the Front Lines of Health Care
Jobs to Careers explores new ways to help frontline health care workers get the skills they need to provide quality care and build sustainable careers. Through Jobs to Careers, health care employers build strong partnerships with education institutions and other organizations to:
- Create lasting improvements in the way frontline employees are trained, rewarded, and advanced; and
- Test new models of education and training that incorporate work-based learning, which represents a novel approach to meeting labor force needs in health care as well as in other fields.
This $15.8 million initiative is sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, in collaboration with The Hitachi Foundation and the U.S. Department of Labor, JFF manages the initiative. Seventeen partnerships representing hospitals, community health centers, long-term care, and behavioral health institutions received multiyear grants.
As the nation’s population ages and grows more diverse, and as demand for health care increases, the United States needs stronger systems for developing both its human resources and innovative approaches to learning. A capable and diverse health and health care workforce is essential to providing for the health needs of all Americans.
Yet one group that is critical to patient care and satisfaction is often underrepresented in research and outreach initiatives within the health care system: the nearly 6 million frontline workers in the United States. They include medical assistants, health educators, laboratory technicians, substance counselors, and home health aides—all of whom provide direct patient care and client services.
Frontline workers typically:
- Earn less than $40,000 a year on average;
- Have less than a Bachelor’s-level education;
- Lack credentials that allow independent practice;
- Often receive training that is limited to learning from peers and “trial and error” experience; and
- Often hold jobs that lack clear standards and competencies, with a limited focus by supervisors on employee skill development and advancement.
These factors, combined with workers’ perceptions that their contributions to the workplace are unrecognized, are associated with high turnover and increased costs. They also may compromise the delivery of service and care.
Jobs to Careers believes that helping frontline workers advance not only benefits them and their families but also helps their employers retain a talented and driven workforce and ensures that patients receive the highest quality care.
A hallmark of Jobs to Careers is work-based learning: frontline employees master occupational and academic skills in the course of completing their jobs tasks and fulfilling their day-to-day responsibilities. While working full time, frontline employees enter college and earn academic credit for workplace training. Other learning approaches in Jobs to Careers include technology-enabled, experience-based, and traditional worksite and off-site learning. Career paths are developed and readily available to frontline workers.
To realize the unique Jobs to Careers approach to learning, employers and educators implement systems changes, such as:
- At the workplace: Developing new job positions and responsibilities; deeply involving supervisors in employee training and career development; and offering paid release time, prepaid tuition assistance, job coaching, and mentoring.
- At the educational institution: Providing college credit for work-based learning, prior learning, and entry-level health care credentials; offering accelerated and part-time degree and certificate programs; contextualizing college preparatory math and English courses to health care concepts and job tasks; and appointing professional staff from health care employers to be adjunct college faculty.
Frontline workers are recognized and rewarded as they build skills and expand knowledge necessary for their current job responsibilities or for advancing to new positions.
- Austin, Texas
- Baltimore, Maryland
- Boston, Massachusetts
- Fall River, Massachusetts
- Hartford, Connecticut
- Medford, Oregon
- New York, New York
- Owensboro, Kentucky
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Portland, Oregon
- San Francisco, California
- Seattle, Washington
- Waianae, Hawaii
- Youngstown, Ohio
For more information, contact: