Silicon Valley partnership graduating low-income Californians into health care careers

580 200 California Economic Summit

(Photo: JobTrain)

This year, the California Economic Summit will honor four public-private partnerships for their innovative workforce training partnerships at the Summit's annual statewide gathering in Santa Rosa on November 15-16.

As part of the Summit's Partnerships for Industry and Education (PIE) Contest, we're featuring one of the winners, the JobTrain Health Career Pathways Partnership between Stanford Health Care and JobTrain, Inc. in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.

This program targets low-income youth with goal of training more accredited medical assistants. Seventy-five percent of those who enter the program obtain employment and more than 85 percent are still working one year later.

We interviewed Barrie Hathaway, president and CEO of JobTrain, via email, about the winning partnership JobTrain has with Stanford Health Care:

California Economic Summit: Briefly tell us who came up with the idea of the partnership and how did you organize it? 

The Health Care Careers Partnership was launched in the Spring of 2015. The idea was first developed by JobTrain’s former CEO, Nora Sobolov, who worked with Teresa Wei, Center of Expertise – Talent Management, Stanford Health Care (SHC). Together, working with JobTrain and SHC staff, they developed a partnership in which JobTrain graduates were placed in paid externships at SHC.

JobTrain’s first cohort that was placed in externships at Stanford Health Care Network was composed of five JobTrain Medical Assistant graduates, who were placed at various clinics within the SHC Network.  During the externship, SHC determined which department at their facility would be the best fit for graduates, and many graduates were hired directly in that department.

As the first cohort was successful, this partnership has expanded, and now 20 percent of JobTrain’s Medical Assistant graduates are placed at SHC. JobTrain Medical Assistants who complete the SHC externship obtain high quality careers in Healthcare, with an average starting wage of $24 per hour, with benefits.

Who was in your partnership and what were you trying to achieve?

JobTrain, a nonprofit organization, and Stanford Health Care (SHC), a leading health care provider, comprise this partnership. JobTrain key staff in partnership: Hayam Demian, director of instruction and career development; Shannon Slaughter, career development specialist; Medical Assistant Instructor (daytime class) Geetika Pattjoshi; Medical Assistant Instructor (evening class) Eid Gadeseed. SHC key staff in partnership: Teresa Wei, Frieda Acu and John Parshall.

The goal is to address a problem: Low-income people with minimal job skills and education need opportunities to gain skills and education to obtain careers in healthcare, and cannot afford expensive training programs. At the same time, there is a strong demand by employers in the Silicon Valley region for employees well-trained in the healthcare field.

To help solve this problem, over the last several years JobTrain has developed partnerships with local healthcare providers. JobTrain’s Health Care Careers Partnership with SHC is an example of one of our most successful partnerships, which is helping SHC to staff its expanding medical facility with skilled Medical Assistants, and also providing JobTrain graduates with a career in the medical field.

In this partnership JobTrain provides an accredited Medical Assistant training program, and SHC provides an externship at their clinics that leads to direct employment. Result: JobTrain graduates obtain high-quality careers; SHC gains well-trained employees who provide excellent health care to the community; and a workforce/employer model is created that can be scaled in the future.

How have students benefited?

This program has a proven track record of helping JobTrain graduates transition from poverty to sustainable careers. JobTrain serves individuals from San Mateo County and surrounding counties, with an emphasis on communities with high rates of unemployment. Over 94 percent of JobTrain students are low income, and need career training and supports to obtain a high-quality career. They do not have the funds to pay for expensive training programs – JobTrain’s trainings are at no cost to students.

JobTrain’s Medical Assistant (M.A.) program provides students with a full-time training program (16 weeks; 480 hours) plus four-week externship (160 hours). Certification Track: State: California Medical Assistants Association (CCMA); National American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA CMA). Graduates of the class earn college credits, increasing their upward mobility. Career opportunities include a pathway to a career at Stanford Health Care, as well as preparation for employment in doctor’s offices, medical clinics and other facilities.  

Fiscal Year 2018 Outcomes for JobTrain’s M.A program illustrate how student’s benefit:

  1. 93.7 percent of students enrolled in class completed the course; (also earned college credits)
  2. 87.7 percent of graduates obtained employment at an average wage of $22.20 per hour

To ensure long-term success, follow-up is provided for 12 months after graduation. Approximately 85 percent of those placed in jobs are still working after one year, and many have been promoted. 

How have you and other employers benefited?

This partnership builds on JobTrain’s successful Healthcare Career Pathways model, scaling our work by partnering with employers, which increases the number of people earning credentials and obtaining sustainable employment. 

JobTrain benefits because our graduates obtain high-quality careers. Prior to this partnership JobTrain has no job placements at SHC. Now we are proud to say that during this partnership, over 40 students have obtained careers at SHC!

This partnership also provides JobTrain with a model we can replicate. We are now also placing students in externships at Kaiser and Palo Alto Medical Foundation, among others, which are providing more opportunities for our students. We plan to build on these partnerships, and explore new partners, to scale this program in the future.

Employers benefit because they have access to well-trained medical assistants, which can help meet the high demand for employees. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of medical assistants is projected to grow 29 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. Adding to this growth, physicians are hiring more assistants to perform routine administrative and clinical duties, allowing physicians to see more patients. Recent government salary figures illustrate that after medical assistant training there are healthy job prospects with good salaries.

For the last seven years the California Economic Summit has been working on making workforce preparation an imperative. What can other employers and educators learn from your partnership?

We have found that good communication between the partners is a key to success. It is important to have a designated person from each partner responsible for their outcomes, and to have regular updates on progress. In addition, it important to have JobTrain instructors, managers and job developers involved, and key staff from SHC, and to solicit feedback from all partners and students.

Shannon Slaughter, JobTrain’s career development specialist, says: “The program must constantly evolve. After each cohort we collect feedback, and from this we make improvements.This way we make sure we are providing Medical Assistant students with the most up-to-date training, and SHC is gaining highly skilled employees.”

To register for the 2018 California Economic Summit on November 15-16 and hear from people representing winning partnerships, click here.

See you in Santa Rosa!



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