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Personal Experiences and a Strong Business Case Have Resulted in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Program to Grow Much Needed Workforce

Facing many of the same workforce challenges being seen in the transportation industry, one large healthcare organization has built a successful model for growing its talent pool. Based on the fundamentals of diversity, equity, and inclusion, the program at UW Health, in southcentral Wisconsin, is growing the skilled workforce they need through an innovative use of community partnerships and home-grown internship and training programs.

Bridgett Willey, Director of Allied Health Education and Career Pathways at UW Health recently joined Tremaine Maebry and 31 attendees for the second installment of the MTWC Diversity and Inclusion Virtual Roundtable Summer Series. In the roundtable, they discussed successful strategies for building a successful Diversity, Equity and Inclusion program and how Willey’s experiences in healthcare can be applied within the Transportation industry. A recording of this roundtable discussion is available on the MTWC website.

Across several sectors, filling positions in the Midwest is difficult and getting harder. That is exactly what UW Health is experiencing as a healthcare system comprised of five hospitals and just under 200 clinics with 16,000 employees. Filling positions in the state is difficult due to high rates of retirement among baby boomers combined with a very low unemployment rate of just 2.6%. UW Health discovered, however, that there is a rich untapped resource among the area’s communities of color, where unemployment rates are currently higher.

About four years ago, Willey started a program to give underrepresented high school and college students an opportunity to explore about 60 in-demand, healthcare careers. The program is called HOPE, which stands for Health Occupations and Professions Exploration. From the first class, interest and attendance in HOPE offerings far exceeded expectations. To date, about 1500 high school and college students from all over the state have participated.

Based on the success of that program, Willey made a proposal to senior leadership to form a new department. Leadership agreed and Allied Health Education and Career Pathways was formed a year and a half ago. With the formation of a department, the programs received a sustainable source of funding that replaced the less reliable grant funds used at their launch.

Since then, the department’s programs have expanded into working not only with youth but also with adults who are underemployed or unemployed. The programs provide short-term training and educational sessions, usually in partnership with a community organization such as The Urban League of Greater Madison, Centro Hispano of Dane County, or Operation Fresh Start, to provide people with the training they need to be successful as they come into various entry-level positions at the hospitals and clinics.

Making the business case for cultural competence at UW Health was key to gaining buy-in for the new department. It’s important for the organization to have a staff with a similar demographic makeup to the patient populations that it serves.

“Over the last couple of years, we have increased our diversity especially at our entry-level careers at the hospital. Now we’re focusing our efforts on creating more opportunities and paths for folks to get into the professional and technical levels of the organization,” said Willey.

Other key factors that have helped gain buy-in include the involvement of subject matter experts from throughout the organization in all aspects of the department’s work. From collecting information about careers and developing training materials to working directly with the students at HOPE events, people are asked to share their knowledge and expertise for the benefit of the program. It’s also important to bring in someone well versed in education who can help not only develop the materials but also help make the careers look interesting to young people. They have a website at www.hopemadisonwi.org that is used extensively by the students during the HOPE events.

With just four career pathways coordinators plus herself, Willey points out that it’s extremely important to be able to work with limited resources and be willing to constantly innovate and change what the team is doing.

“As a small team, we’re always working at capacity. Before we can try something new we have to take something out. So, we’re always in a state of change and growth,” she said.

Willey also admits that her personal experiences probably helped make her especially adept at implementing workforce development programs. When she was about 11, Willey saw her father’s career change take her family from living at the poverty line to the middle class. This experience stuck with her and taught her important lessons about how young people choose their future careers. She later built on this experience when choosing her own professional trajectory, and eventually used all of these experiences to build the HOPE program.

Her early exposure to healthcare came from her dad when he came out of the Navy. After serving four years as an EMT, when he rejoined civilian life, her father’s skills were not transferrable into a certification or a specific job role. So, he was working at a low wage at the VA hospital in Kansas City, as a Patient Care Assistant. While there, a cardiologist offered him the opportunity to learn on the job to operate a new technology, diagnostic medical ultrasound, which was used to look at patients’ hearts and blood vessels. With this new training and new career path, Willey’s father vastly improved his family’s financial situation.

“That, to me was incredible,” said Willey. “Later, when I went to college I started out as a Journalism major. I quickly realized that I was going to have student loans and that there was only a thirty percent chance I would even get accepted into the Journalism school. I decided that I better find a better career.” Willey went on to pursue a career in healthcare, starting with on-the-job EKG Technician training.

“Careers tend to run in families,” Willey points out. “When I tell the story of my dad to the kids in HOPE, it tends to make a big impact. Many of them have experienced poverty or experienced a parent working two or three jobs just trying to make ends meet,” said Willey. “Whereas, a lot of careers in healthcare, with very little formal education, can be extremely lucrative and support families.”

A recent article in the Wisconsin State Journal highlighted the student experience through the summer HOPE internship program.

For more information about the MTWC D&I Virtual Roundtable or if you have any questions please contact Maria Hart at maria.hart@wisc.edu.

Breadth and Diversity of Transportation Careers Requires Us to Dream Big During Engineers Week 2017

Inspiring the employees of the future to pursue careers in transportation requires not just career awareness but it also requires that we change existing perceptions about the field. Engineers Week February 19-25, offers an excellent opportunity to remind students, parents, and educators, that building and construction projects involve a wide variety of occupations from planners, construction workers, geologists, environmental experts, and hydro-geologists. As we celebrate the engineering feats in the world around us during Engineers Week, we can also consider all the people, technologies, and supply chains that make these possible.

A perfect example of this type of broad-based approach, is the giant screen movie, Dream Big: Engineering Our World, created in partnership with the American Society of Civil Engineers by Bechtel Corporation. More information about this event and where it will be screened in the Midwest can be found on the Dream Big film’s website.

Not only does the Dream Big film explore the broad field of engineering, but the makers have produced educational materials, exhibits, and curricula around the project, making this a game-changing strategy for workforce development professionals and educators.

Each state in the MTWC region celebrates engineering in its own way. You can find activities designed to inspire and educate young people about their career options in the MTWC Clearinghouse searchable database. Information on Engineers Week events can be found on the Discover-e website.

For the Midwest, we’ve compiled a short list of events for each state:

Illinois

With multiple events throughout the week, the Chicago Architecture Foundation Engineering Festival has a number of hands-on activities for kids and families. This year, they will explore Chicago’s iconic movable bridges with free activities for ages 5–12. https://www.architecture.org/experience-caf/programs-events/detail/engineering-fest/

At the Peoria Riverfront Museum, guests are invited to enjoy the Engineering Day Free Day! and other activities including a bridge building contest this weekend, February 18 and 19. https://www.peoriariverfrontmuseum.org/posts/700

In Wheaton, the Illinois Institute of Technology is providing provide hands-on activities for children and students of all ages (primarily in grades K-8) to explore science, technology, engineering and math in the DuPage Area STEM Expo on February 25. Over 50 displays, presentations, and projects will be featured. https://appliedtech.iit.edu/events/2017/feb/25/dupage-area-stem-expo-2017

Indiana

The IEEE Central Indiana Section is teaming up with The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis to offer National Engineers Children’s Day on February 25. The program combines hands-on activities and the ability to interact with engineers of various disciplines. http://www.cis-ieee.org/eweek/

In Michigan City, the Dream Big…and Engineer On event will introduce the fun world of engineering to local youngsters with activities focused on kids aged 2 to 8 on February 23 at the Michigan City Public Library. https://www.facebook.com/events/814122088726555/

Iowa

Iowa State University College of Engineering is celebrating Engineers Week 2017 with events including a scavenger hunt for a golden calculator, E-Lympics, and Technology Night. https://www.facebook.com/isueweek/

In Waterloo, celebrate how engineers make a difference in the world during Museum Madness at the Imaginarium on February 25. https://www.groutmuseumdistrict.org/calendar/museum-madness-national-engineers-week–hawkeye-community-college-through-the-ages-D02252017.aspx

Kansas

A little later this year, for two days in March, the University of Kansas School of Engineering will open its doors for elementary and middle school students to explore the world of engineering during the KU Engineering EXPO. https://engr.ku.edu/esc/expo

Michigan

Michigan Tech is hosting Engineering Exploration Day for Middle and High School Girls on February 25. https://events.mtu.edu/event/engineering_exploration_day_for_middle_and_high_school_girls#.WKSiUjsrKbg

Minnesota

The Engineering Career Information Night for middle and high school students in Savage will be hosted by the Prior Lake High School Robotics Team KING TeC, in collaboration with the Prior Lake High School Guidance Office and Mankato State University. During this event, a panel of engineers will provide insights to a career in engineering and answer questions from the audience on February 23, in the Prior Lake High School auditorium. https://kingtec2169.com/engineering-career-information-night/

Crack open old electronics, use candy to learn about biomedical technology, explore squishy, slimy, and cold substances, and more. It’s all part of the fun at The Works Museum’s annual Tech Fest event on February 25. With dozens of hands-on activities and demos this event lets families learn more about what engineering is and see how it’s everywhere around us. https://theworks.org/tech-fest/

Celebrate Engineers Week by making a puppet in the Engineering Elastic Puppets event. At this event at the St. Anthony Library on February 25, you will learn about elasticity, and then create and decorate your very own puppet out of string and straws. https://hclib.bibliocommons.com/events/581b66e45d375c0100ecdd9a

Missouri

Spark your curiosity at the annual series of weekend expos in SciFest 2017 at the Saint Louis Science Center. Meet local scientists, engineers and other experts for a behind-the-scenes look at real science. http://www.slsc.org/SciFest#sthash.17pvpWXl.dpuf

Washington University in St. Louis School of Engineering & Applied Science is celebrating Engineers Week 2017 with multiple events throughout the week. https://engineering.wustl.edu/current-students/Pages/Engineers-Week.aspx

The Missouri Society of Professional Engineers Ozarks Chapter is hosting Discover Engineering Day at The Plaster Center for Free Enterprise and Business Development in Downtown Springfield on February 18. http://www.osteam.org/calendar/2017/2/18/discover-engineering-day

Ohio

The Central Ohio STEM Expo is a free educational outreach event for students grades K-8 that will feature fun, interactive activities and exhibits in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Participants will have the opportunity to get reduced price admission to explore the rest of the COSI facility that day as well as to watch Dream Big: Engineering Our Worldhttp://centralohioasce.org/2017_STEM_Expo

Wisconsin

STEM Forward’s 64th Annual Engineers Week Banquet & Awards Ceremony is a celebration of excellence in STEM as the Engineer of the Year, Young Engineer of the Year, and Spirit of STEM Awards are presented. http://www.stemforward.org/engineers-week-banquet-1/

In April, the University of Wisconsin will host its annual Engineering EXPO 2017. Registration is now open for this two-day, student run event, which typically attracts 10,000 visitors to the university campus. Cash awards are given out to exhibitors comprised of undergraduate students, graduate students, and student organizations. Registration for exhibitors is open now! http://engineeringexpo.wisc.edu/

Transcripts of Apprenticeship Webinar and Call Available

The transcript of the MTWC webinar, “Why all the momentum for Registered Apprenticeships? What are they?” held December 8th is now available for download on the MTWC website. Here, you can also view the recording of the webinar as well as download the presentation slides and other helpful resource materials.

After the webinar, a follow-up call was scheduled to allow more time to ask questions of the panel of experts about registered apprenticeship programs. The transcript of this call is also available on the website.

National Apprenticeship Week Events in the Midwest

November 14-20, 2016 is National Apprenticeship Week.

All across the country, organizations are hosting events to spread the news about apprenticeships as a way to attract talent and retain valuable employees.

NAW offers Registered Apprenticeship sponsors the opportunity to showcase their programs, facilities, and apprentices, and gives Employers, Education, Industry Associations, Labor, Elected officials and other critical partners the opportunity to highlight how Registered Apprenticeship meets their needs for a skilled workforce. 

In the Midwest, many unions are hosting open houses and tours of their facilities to share information on construction apprenticeships.  Some sites include the Operating Engineers Local 513 Training Facility in Silex, Missouri, the Wisconsin Operating Engineers Training Facility in Coloma, Wisconsin, and the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 in Wilmington, Illinois.

In Kansas, the Wichita Workforce Center will host a Corporate Leader lunch to talk about Registered Apprenticeship and veterans. Other workforce centers hosting events include the St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment (SLATE).

Mott Community College in Flint Michigan is hosting a number of events during the month of November including a celebration of registered apprenticeship, and a breakfast for employers.  Other community colleges such as Hawkeye Community College in Waterloo, Iowa, are offering informational sessions, and Ivy Tech Community College is hosting Job Fairs both in Fort Wayne and South Bend, Indiana.

Nationally, TMC Transportation will be releasing a video on truck driving and apprenticeships.

To see all the events 640 and counting, by industry sector  or target group please visit the Department of Labor webiste.

Webinar “Developing the Transportation Talent Pipeline” Now Available Online

MTWC’s March 15, 2016 webinar, “Developing the Transportation Talent Pipeline Webinar,” is now available on our website. You may access it by clicking here or going to our Resources Tab.

This event was sponsored by Transportation Research Board’s Committee on Education and Training (ABG20) and the National Network for the Transportation Workforce.

Interested in other Transportation Talent Development Webinars? Check out our sponsor’s websites:

Webinar: Developing the Transportation Talent Pipeline

Tuesday, March 15, 2016
1:00-2:30pm Central (2:00-3:30pm Eastern)

Unfilled jobs hurt the competitive position of our businesses and our nation. This discussion will help leaders from business and industry, economic development, education, and workforce development learn about proven strategies for enhancing employer competitiveness and profitability through improved access to skilled workers. Read more

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