The Berks County Workforce Development Board will partner with the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance and Reading Area Community College (RACC) to launch a new Greater Reading Healthcare Connections Industry Partnership with the $176,155 grant.
The Greater Reading Healthcare Connections Industry Partnership will create strategies for employers to develop career pathways, establishing industry credentials to education partner(s), and design and implement a Registered Apprentice Home Health Aide to LPN career pathway.
The grant, distributed by L&I’s Apprenticeship and Training Office, is one of three totaling nearly $700,000 L&I Acting Secretary Nancy Walker announced Friday. The two others are in Allegheny County and North Central Pennsylvania.
The grant program, as part of the COVID-19 Nursing Workforce Initiative (NWI) and funded by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), blends the registered apprenticeship and industry partnership models and is designed to address the many workforce challenges in communities most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, L&I said.
“Health care workers gave Pennsylvania so much these past few years – life-saving care, long hours, and an unparalleled commitment to service,” Walker said. “To ensure this critical workforce remains strong, this grant program will help relieve ongoing staffing challenges and provide long-term support to the nursing profession by building a pipeline of skilled health care workers in underserved communities.”
The NWI, introduced by state Sen. Maria Collett, D-Montgomery County, in September 2021, was created to support individuals within the nursing industry as they navigated the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, and continues today to incentivize individuals to pursue careers in the nursing industry at a time when shortages in that field are at critically low levels.
To help combat the problem and fill vacancies, the blended approach will allow each program to serve at least 40 new apprentices during the grant period, the majority of whom will remain with the employer who provided training upon completion of the program.
L&I said to ensure lasting impact, the overarching goal for programs developed under this initiative will be to serve at least 20 apprentices annually beyond the grant period.
The 2023 Nursing Pathway programs will operate from April 2023 through June 2026.