Industry-labor partnership creates nonprofit to fill California’s health care workforce gap

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(Photo: Medical Futurist)

To address California’s health care worker shortage, a $130 million partnership between two major entities in the sector are teaming up. Kaiser Permanente and Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) are establishing a new nonprofit, called Futuro Health, with the goal of training the largest network of certified health care workers. It will focus first in California with plans to expand to other states.

Projections show California will need 500,000 health care workers by 2024. The new partnership aims to graduate 10,000 new licensed, credentialed allied health care workers in California over the next four years through an affordable education-to-work solution. Allied health careers include dental hygienists, radiologists, dietitians, medical technologists, occupational therapists, among many others that don't necessarily require a four-year degree but are well-paying and in need of a growing workforce. 

“By investing in health education, skills training and retraining programs with Futuro Health, Kaiser Permanente, in collaboration with SEIU-UHW, is leading efforts to reverse the shortage trend,” Greg Adams, chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente. “This investment effort is consistent with our Nurse Scholars Academy and mental health postgraduate training program.”

Van Ton-Quinlivan will serve as Futuro Health’s chief executive officer. A nationally recognized thought leader in workforce development and a member of the California Forward Leadership Council, she will draw on her private and public sector experience to design solutions that connect communities with careers. 

“I am honored to lead Futuro Health,” said Ton-Quinlivan. “In the next decade California is going to increase by 10.2 million people. And the number of people 65 years and older will double and, as you know, healthcare consumption is going to increase as you as you age.”

She added, “We're seeing new investors like Kaiser and the United Healthcare Workers coming together to make investments so that more individuals can come into the allied health workforce, so that we can have equitable healthcare across all of our regions.”

Futuro Health’s new education-to-work model supports candidates through career exploration and coaching, education financing, and targeted education-to-work pathways toward their credential or licensure attainment. In addition to Kaiser Permanente and SEIU-UHW, Futuro Health is partnering with Western Governors University to provide students with an affordable competency-based education pathway for attaining credentials to become medical coders, medical assistants and care coordinators.

This new Futuro Health model is a good example of workforce partnerships that address California’s skilled worker shortage issue by providing affordable preparation for careers with livable wages – one of the top priorities in the just-released 2020 California Economic Summit Roadmap, which also shares action steps in housing, homelessness, broadband access and more.


Nadine Ono

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