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STLCC, Missouri Community Colleges to Pursue Innovative Workforce Education Offerings in Health Disciplines

September 29, 2011

Jay Nixon visits Harrison Center  
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon visits with students in St. Louis Community College's patient care
technician program during a visit Sept. 29 to the Harrison Education Center. Through the MoHealthWINs grant, the college will retrain more than 1,100 unemployed individuals for careers in health informatics and therapeutic services.

Community colleges throughout Missouri have received a $20 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to develop innovative approaches to address current and future workforce needs in Missouri’s largest industry – health services/sciences.

As part of the Missouri Health Workforce Innovation Networks (MoHealthWINS) grant, St. Louis Community College will receive funds to develop new educational pathways that accelerate the progression and improve the retention of low-skilled adults for careers in health informatics – jobs related to electronic health records conversion – and therapeutic services such as patient care technicians, certified nursing assistants and registered nurses.

"Missouri's community colleges have been a strong partner in the effort to train more Missourians for the jobs and careers of tomorrow," Gov. Jay Nixon said during a visit to St. Louis Community College today. "Missouri's health care industry needs more workers at our hospitals and clinics. To ensure that unemployed Missourians have the right training and education to fill these jobs and succeed in these new careers, we're focusing on specific, in-demand skills. And these are long-term employment opportunities and relatively high-wage jobs."

The program is being funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant program.

Under this grant, STLCC will serve more than 1,100 St. Louis area residents, including those affected by the Trade Adjustment Act, which is triggered when companies lay off workers and/or shut down because of foreign competition, as well as other unemployed and underemployed workers.

“Under current models of education, low-skilled workers have a difficult time navigating the employment and educational opportunities necessary to advance in the healthcare field,” said Rod Nunn, STLCC’s vice chancellor for workforce and community development. “St. Louis Community College will implement new programming that connects the workers traditionally disconnected education and working experiences into an intentional career pathway development process. So this is not a job training grant, but a call to innovation in workforce education.”

STLCC’s grant program will include many innovative features and strategies, including:

  • An entry-level portal process to include assessment, contextualized basis skills instruction, and career exploration and coaching, all aimed at assisting low-skilled workers enter and succeed in the health informatics and therapeutic services career pathways.
  • Boot camps that will function as a bridge to prepare students for the therapeutic services pathway.
  • Learning-based communities led by career coaches that work with students from the portal through an associate degree in nursing.
  • Stackable credentials and credit for prior learning, and experience within bridge programs for the varying steps along the pathway from entry level to the nursing associate degree. There will be multiple entry points along this pathway.
  • Creation of a Medical Services Workforce Outsourcing Center, which will assist students in gaining internships, consulting opportunities and business start-up.

Nunn said STLCC will build upon existing partnerships with the local healthcare industry such as BJC HealthCare and SSM Health Care to validate employer needs in the different fields within related degree and certificate areas. The college also will coordinate with local Workforce Investment Boards to ensure grant activities effectively serve the needs of the unemployed and dislocated workers as well as employer needs in the St. Louis area.

Nunn also noted that STLCC’s newest initiatives will coordinate and leverage resources from existing grant programs such as Training for Tomorrow, the Graduate St. Louis Consortium and the Midwest Community College Health Information Technology Consortium.