In Richmond, Virginia, hospitals are facing a shortage of entry-level workers that medical training programs are unable to assign. An estimated 500 entry-level medical jobs go unfilled across the region every year, as medical programs at schools like J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College report that 881 students dropped out of its ranks in the fall of 2015.
So this year, organizers with Richmonders Involved to Strengthen our Communities (RISC) decided to do something about it. They’re rolling out a new six-partner job pipeline network with Richmond-area hospital systems like Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) Virginia Health System and Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Health System to get a larger chunk of the city’s 28,000 unemployed workers into one of the state’s growth industries.
RISC has been looking west and taking notes, marking the success of hospital local hire programs like the Greater University Circle Initiative in Cleveland. That strategy shifted hospitals away from partnering with big corporate contractors and toward local companies that sourced employees from communities struggling with poverty or barriers to employment.
But while hospitals in the Ohio city’s University Circle spurred local employees by helping build worker-owned cooperatives in side industries like laundry service, RISC is hoping to go a step further and put out-of-work residents from low-income neighborhoods like Church Hill and Jackson Ward into actual medical careers.
“There’s a lot of growth in healthcare, but a lot of jobs go unfilled because people aren’t able to get into the trainings easily enough,” says Michael Kolbe, a member of RISC’s jobs committee.
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