Reporting on the connections between education and work

The Job: Healthcare High Schools

Bloomberg and hospitals back dual-enrollment path from K-12 to high-demand jobs.

Bloomberg Philanthropies hopes $250M can jump-start a path from high school to good healthcare jobs. Also, defining durable skills with input from companies, and ASU’s partnership with OpenAI, with questions about which colleges and students will be able to keep up on AI.

From Early College to the Middle Class

More career exploration in high school is needed to help Americans make better-informed choices about their education and job options, experts agree. And serious, employer-backed efforts to tighten connections between school and work are likely to emerge first in healthcare, given the industry’s severe staffing woes.

A new $250M investment by Bloomberg Philanthropies could be an important step in this direction. The money will seed the creation of healthcare-focused high schools in 10 U.S. locations, with a plan to enroll 6K students who will graduate directly from the early-college high schools into high-demand healthcare jobs that pay family-sustaining wages.

Community colleges are part of the mix and will offer students a way to pursue credit-bearing coursework, certificates, and degrees, as well as industry credentials and certifications. University health systems and other hospitals are active backers of the project and will help pay to support students—even after graduation.

In Durham, North Carolina, a $29.5M grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies will create a career pathway that integrates high school, higher education, and the healthcare sector, says J. B. Buxton, president of Durham Technical Community College. 

To make that happen, the college is partnering with Durham Public Schools and Duke Health to create an early-college high school that Buxton says will allow students to earn the credentials and degrees they need to enter the workforce in critical occupations immediately after they graduate, or to continue their education.

“It will make college possible for more students and families, ensure the local healthcare workforce reflects our community, and create a well-trained workforce for an essential sector that has lost workers in recent years,” he says.

The public-private partnership began with pitches to CEOs of hospital systems around the country, says Jenny Sharfstein Kane, the education lead for Bloomberg Philanthropies. The industry is desperate to fill open jobs, including many that don’t require a four-year degree.

Even so, the project started at square one in many of the regions it covers.

“A lot of the hospitals we spoke with had never spoken with their local school district,” Kane says. “We played a major role in matchmaking.”

Workforce Crisis: North Carolina is one of five states facing the nation’s worst shortages of nurses—with 17K+ projected nursing vacancies by 2033. The region around Durham is expected to be one of the hardest hit, Duke Health says, due to the area’s large number of health systems, hospitals, and healthcare organizations.

An analysis from Duke Health found roughly 8K annual openings in the region for in-demand positions that typically require an advanced certificate or associate degree. The biggest gap is for registered nurses, followed by nursing care assistants, imaging techs, medical assistants, and other roles.

The new school in Durham will be designed to change minds about dual enrollment, says Oluwunmi (Olu) Ariyo, Durham Tech’s director of college recruitment and high school partnerships. The goal is to “allow first-generation and at-risk students to move directly into full-time positions or apprenticeships,” she says, “or part-time employment in combination with further education under an equity lens.”

Students will graduate with a high school diploma as well as an associate degree or workforce credential. Besides integrating health sciences content across the curriculum, the school will offer career exploration activities, many hosted by Duke Health, as well as apprenticeships, internships, and clinical rotations for some career roles.

The school will enroll students from grades nine to 12—and one year beyond 12th grade—with a goal of 100 students per grade level. Students will receive a wide range of support services as they earn credentials, including near-peer mentoringand interview prep, to help them pick the right path as they prepare for the workforce.

Job Quality: Duke Health says it hopes to hire at least 50 to 60 graduates each year. The system will tap assets from across the Duke enterprise to support students before and after graduation. As employees, Duke Health says, graduates will get flexible scheduling and assistance with transportation and childcare to help them stay in their jobs and move into high-paying roles.

Kane is confident the hospitals will pony up. “They’re concerned about turnover,” she says. “They want to keep their employees.”

The winning pitch to participating employers and education providers, says Kane, was about providing serious startup money to help eliminate risk as they create fully integrated, employer-led career paths.

The project’s leaders will keep close tabs on graduates’ annual wages to ensure that they are earning at least $40K out of high school, often with a real possibility of soon hitting $70K or more. To help ensure job quality, each school selected which career path to offer, Kane says, based on the needs of the regional hospital systems.

Industry-focused high schools are unusual in this country, which tends to look askance at tracking students into careers. 

While Kane says old-school vocational K-12 programs definitely tracked, the new healthcare high schools are about providing more good options for students. And she says it would be false to frame the project as just being about work, as students will be earning college credits and credentials.

The model could work in other industries, says Kane. Healthcare is just the obvious one.

The Kicker: “You need to have a lot of jobs open, and you need to have an employer that is bought in,” she says.

OpenAI’s Deal With ASU

Arizona State University rolled out a partnership with OpenAI last week, following on the heels of a similar announcement from the University of Michigan system and Microsoft. The arrangement raises lots of questions about the implications for higher education and workforce development.

Perhaps chief among them is whether other colleges can keep up—particularly community colleges and other open-access institutions. Margaret Moffett reports on what that might mean for millions of lower-income students.

“Institutions that have a commitment to serving a broader range of students are particularly important in this conversation,” says Philipp Schmidt, vice president of technology innovation at Axim Collaborative. “It’s not something that should just involve the elite institutions.”

Read the full story on Work Shift.


ASU Makes a Big Play With OpenAI for Students. Can Others Keep Up?

The mega-university joins the University of Michigan as the only ones to ink major AI partnerships thus far, raising questions about what kinds of colleges—and which students—are going to shape the emerging tech.


Defining Durable Skills

The nonprofit America Succeeds and CompTIA have released an attempt to nail down a common lexicon for “durable skills”—with an eye toward giving a boost to skills-based hiring. 

As technical skills evolve ever more quickly, these highly sought soft skills include critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity, as well as character skills such as fortitude, a growth mindset, and leadership.

The effort began with an analysis of 80M job postings and involved industry representatives from a wide range of companies, including Amazon and Johnson & Johnson. The new framework doesn’t include assessment tools for individuals. But it could be used to create a B-Corp-style standard for education and training programs, says Stephanie Short, vice president of partnerships at America Succeeds.

The project’s leaders tested their language on durable skills with various audiences, including those focused on K-12 education. “It played well in both red and blue states,” Short says. 

Many organizations are seeking to define skills or to create ways for people to display their verified skills to employers and education providers, including through digital wallets or learning and employer record (LER) systems.

“Over time, this market will probably sort itself out,” says Short. For now, America Succeeds is looking for good use cases for its durable skills framework. The group is seeking feedback and can be reached here.

Open Tabs

Gradual Disruption
Job displacement from AI exposure will be substantial but gradual, leaving room for policy and retraining to mitigate impacts on workers, concludes a study from the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. The research found that a majority of U.S. businesses would choose not to automate most computer vision tasks due to the tech’s current costs, with 23% of worker wages for those tasks being attractive to automation.

Jobs Portal
Connecticut introduced a new jobs portal last week that’s designed to be a one-stop shop for jobseekers. As well as job-search tools, it includes information about free and low-cost training and education programs. The portal also features resources aimed at helping employers hire, train, and retain workers, including information on how to reach greater numbers of skilled jobseekers from diverse backgrounds.

Workforce Scholarship
Idaho’s recently created workforce development scholarship has generated more interest than state officials had predicted, with 12K+ applicants so far, Jessica Blake reports for Inside Higher Ed. The onetime grants will cover 80% of the tuition fees (up to $8K) for education and training programs in fields that are designated as in-demand. Idaho residents who are enrolled in college or have applied to a degree program can apply.

CTE Apprenticeships
The U.S. Department of Labor’s recently proposed model for CTE apprenticeships would require more related instruction and less time on the job than a traditional registered apprenticeship, according to an explainer from New America’s Taylor White and Kelly Vedi. It also would place more of an emphasis on industry-relevant skills than occupationally specific training, an approach the department says is appropriate for less experienced workers.

Community College Enrollment
Undergraduate enrollment grew this fall, buoyed by increases at community colleges, according to final numbers from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Two-year colleges’ enrollments grew by 2.6%, which was lower than initial projections. Growth was concentrated among two-year colleges with a heavy vocational focus (16%), while those focused on transfer to four-year institutions saw essentially flat enrollment.

College Alternatives
Higher education is losing its “near monopoly over credentialing pathways that lead to good jobs,” writes Dan Greenstein, chancellor of Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education. But less selective colleges are adapting creatively, albeit incrementally, to pressure and changing demands. College is a risky choice for many Americans, but finding a viable alternative is difficultDoug Belkin writes in a broad essay for The Wall Street Journal. And the signal sent by a degree remains a challenge for skills-based hiring.

Skills Standards
A new résumé standard from 1EdTech and the HR Open Standards Consortium seeks to create a stronger bridge between education and employment. The combination of digital credential standards from 1EdTech incorporates a learner’s academic achievements, skills, and workplace milestones in a digitally verifiable way, through a digital wallet or platform, with a goal of making the hiring process more equitable and efficient.

Job Moves
Allison Danielsen has been named CEO of Tallo, an early talent platform. Danielsen leaves the College Board, where she was executive director of careers and partnerships for BigFuture, the testing firm’s career and college planning site.

Rohan Chandran is the new chief product and technology officer for Guild, the career-education platform. Chandran previously was chief product officer at Data Axle, a data and marketing company.

Last week Work Shift reported on big proposed changes to how North Carolina funds its community colleges. Let me know what you think of the plan? I’m hoping to write more about it next week. Thanks for reading. —PF

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