Through Jobs to Careers, health care providers partner with education institutions and other community organizations -- to change the way frontline employees are trained, rewarded, and advanced. Systems change is critical to the success of Jobs to Careers.
To realize the unique Jobs to Careers approach to learning, employers and educators implement systems changes at the workplace and at the educational institution. Systems changes in Jobs to Careers are formally or informally institutionalized within organizations or partnerships aimed at supporting work-based learning and frontline worker career advancement. The employer and the education partner (as well as other partners in many cases) develop and implement changes that recognize the needs of working adults and that improve access to and success in skill building efforts.
At the Workplace: Learner-Friendly Workplaces
Employers in Jobs to Careers support career advancement and better jobs for frontline workers through changes in three key areas: human resources policies (e.g., providing tuition remission so that frontline workers will not have up-front educational costs); organizational culture and management practices (e.g., helping supervisors be supportive); and work processes (e.g., learning through job tasks and responsibilities).
Human resources policies enable system changes at an employer by formalizing components of a new program and relationships with educational institutions. Examples of relevant HR policies include developing new job positions and responsibilities, deeply involving supervisors in employee training and career development, and offering paid release time, prepaid tuition assistance, job coaching, and mentoring.
Organizational culture can be loosely described as a collection of values and norms that are shared by people and groups within an organization. For example, an employer’s commitment to developing a comprehensive learning culture might be reflected through: the establishment of an education department that supports education and training in health care to both employees and staff within the community; formal HR policies that are supportive of staff career and skill development; and participation in programs designed to address higher-level workforce needs by advancing frontline workers.
The organization and process of work also need to change in most workplaces to accommodate education, training, and career advancement at work. These changes can be subtle (e.g., rotating assignments), or they can be more explicit.
Educational Institutions: Worker-Friendly Education
The development and implementation of Jobs to Careers projects required its education partners to adopt academic policies and practices that support work-based learning and career advancement for workers. They had to substantially alter how and where they delivered instruction, how they partnered with employers, and how they were funded. Work-based learning expands or supplements traditional academic education and even continuing education programs.
Examples of systems change include providing college credit for work-based learning, prior learning, and entry-level health care credentials; offering accelerated and part-time degree and certificate programs; contextualizing college preparatory math and English courses to health care concepts and job tasks; and appointing professional staff from health care employers to be adjunct college faculty.
In addition, the nature of work-based learning requires educational institutions to adapt many traditional educational processes, including curriculum development, course design, and implementation of the course. For example, educational institutions often need to coordinate different departments to meet the goals of a program to advance frontline health care workers. In some cases, departments that traditionally do not offer courses for credit (e.g., continuing education departments) work with departments that offer credit, particularly in programs that incorporate prerequisites or remedial coursework.
Educational institutions also redesign courses taught in traditional classrooms in order to incorporate work-based learning, active and experiential learning, supervisor input, and documentation of on-the-job learning for course credit. To identify key areas of competency development, a key step in developing a work-based learning program, supervisors and workers at the employer collaborate with the educational institution.
Many educational institutions in Jobs to Careers adapted the implementation of coursework to different settings (e.g., on site at the employer) and different schedules (e.g., departure from the usual academic semester schedule).