As part of a recently announced Department of Labor grant, the Dallas County Community College District will partner with the American Hospital Association (AHA) and nine health care organizations to develop and expand health care apprenticeship programs across the country. The programs will offer employment, training and mentoring in a wide array of health care professions, including health care facilities management.

Members of the American Society for Health Care Engineering (ASHE) have reported that workforce development is one of the key issues they face. “We see this program as addressing both the needs of health care facility management in their pursuit to attract and retain talent, and to address the labor shortages, creating a pathway for folks who want training for careers in health care,” says Dale Woodin, FASHE, CHFM, vice president of professional membership groups at the AHA and interim executive director for ASHE.

The apprenticeship programs will offer a combination of on-the-job training and classroom instruction for a range of health care facility positions: facility manager, energy specialist, project manager, engineer, maintenance supervisor, architect, and director of facilities and construction. In addition, ASHE will develop health care-specific application training and functional descriptions for existing programs focusing on technical positions, including electrician, plumber and HVAC technician.

The health care facilities labor shortage is a complex issue with multiple variables, notes Woodin. “To effectively address this issue requires a comprehensive, holistic approach,” he says. “The partnership between higher education and the hospital community ensures that training programs are designed for the current and emerging skill sets that are needed, and that the experiential components of this training focus on real life applications and problem solving.”

ASHE will work to scale up and expand these programs far beyond Dallas County, and provide national credentialing to ensure consistent training and validation of skills. Program planning will take place over the course of the next year, and the health care facilities apprenticeship programs are slated to start in the summer of 2020.