$6.6 Million Grant to Significantly Expand Access, Resources for Healthcare Careers

Jun 16, 2010, 17:32 ET from American Association of Community Colleges

American Association of Community Colleges to Spearhead Healthcare Virtual Career Platform

WASHINGTON, June 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The U.S. Department of Labor today announced that the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) will receive a $6.6 million grant to fund development of Healthcare Virtual Career Platform (HVCP): Healthcare Career Central, an open-source delivery platform that will manage an individual's entry into any of more than 200 healthcare careers – from career exploration, to skills assessment, training and job placement.

The initiative is part of a larger $14 million healthcare career grant package authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and builds on existing resources and new technology to set a new standard for career exploration and expand opportunities for healthcare careers.

Key partners in the initiative include the National Association of Workforce Boards (NAWB) and National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA) to link to the public workforce system. Other partners include the American Council on Education, Direct Employers Association, Jobs for the Future, and XPAND and Minnesota's ISEEK (Internet System for Education and Employment Knowledge). The American Dental Education Association's "Explore Health Careers" will provide technical assistance from an existing database of 120 health occupations.  In addition, the Department of Defense and ed2go, a division of Cengage Learning, will provide initial learning content.

The initiative also will engage many of the nation's close to 1,200 community colleges, which currently educate more than 60% of healthcare professionals in the U.S.

"This grant will provide a wealth of resources and opportunities for persons interested in learning about and training for careers in the health care field, a high growth area in America's job market," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "AACC was competitively selected to receive this grant because of their strong proposal, which includes upcoming online career guidance tools and lifelong training services that will benefit workers and trainees for years to come."

The platform will contain two major innovations – a Learning Exchange and a Career Management Account designed to gather information on courses needed to pursue a healthcare career, deliver online content, track ongoing career progress, and provide job match information.

AACC's Center for Workforce and Economic Development aims to connect workers with education and jobs in local communities.  Within the Center, AACC's newly established Health Professions Education Center will focus efforts to address the nation's health care workforce needs, including working with communities to develop educational pathways to match displaced workers with health care jobs. 

In addition to helping to address the nation's persistently high unemployment rate, the initiative is designed to overcome growing shortages of healthcare professionals. Healthcare professional and technical occupations rank as the fifth largest cluster and will provide the seventh largest share of job openings over the next decade, according to a study released this month by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, entitled Help Wanted Projections of Jobs and Education Requirements Through 2018.  The study notes that healthcare occupations will provide an estimated 2.8 million job openings over the next eight years.

"We believe this initiative supports and leverages the continued commitment of our colleges and partners to educate and place a diverse group of students and workers.  This new resource dramatically increases our ability to effectively and efficiently channel them into productive healthcare careers," said George R. Boggs, president of the American Association of Community Colleges.

A comprehensive health care careers advisory group composed of representatives from various health care professions, including health care employers, health care education associations and state/local public health officials will support the project.

The American Association of Community Colleges is a national association representing close to 1,200 community, junior and technical colleges. Community colleges are the largest and fastest growing sector of higher education, currently educating almost half of all U.S. undergraduates.

SOURCE American Association of Community Colleges



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