Atlanta Regional Workforce Area School at Work

The Atlanta Regional Workforce Board (ARWB) and the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) were selected to participate in the USDOL funded School at Work (SAW) initiative. The SAW initiative is a distance learning delivery system that delivers “Building a Career Ladder in Health Care” instruction directly to hospitals, using Internet and television technology. Catalyst Learning, in partnership with USDOL, is seeking to roll out the initiative on a nationwide basis, and ARC was selected as the first site in Georgia. To assist with project expansion in Georgia, ARWB was awarded an Incumbent Worker demonstration grant by the Georgia Department of Labor in 2005. Saint Joseph’s Hospital implemented the first SAW class in the Atlanta area. Nineteen students graduated in May, 2005. Several members of that class have since attended healthcare skills training and have received new positions and promotions. A second Saint Joseph’s class graduated in May, 2006. The Atlanta Veterans’ Medical Center, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, and Emory Healthcare currently have SAW projects in operation, and Gwinnett Medical Center has selected facilitators and is moving ahead with implementation. A total of 70 SAW students have been enrolled in these projects. Several other hospitals have expressed interest in SAW as well. SAW students are employed in hospital entry-level positions, including food service, security, housekeeping, environmental services, office positions, and nurse aides. SAW students complete two courses over an eight-month period. “Introduction to Health Care” is a rapid refresher of essential reading, writing, math and communications skills. Following the first semester, students enter the “Becoming a Health Care Professional Course” - which contains the prerequisites for Allied Health careers. The goal of the Career Ladder program is to provide loyal, hard-working employees with the knowledge, confidence, and motivation needed to enroll in local certificate and degree programs available at the community college. ARWB Career Advisors meet with SAW students at each hospital to introduce career exploration activities to help them choose a career and select a school to gain skills for their move up the healthcare career ladder. Students take the CareerScope interest and ability inventory and Learning Styles Inventory as a part of this process. Each student has an individual counseling session with a career advisor for interpretation of the CareerScope and development of a career action plan. Career Advisors also assist students with finding scholarships, grants, and financial aid to fund additional training. A survey is posted on the ARC web site for students to maintain contact with their Career Advisor and report progress on their career goals. Since ARWB was initially selected to be the pilot, the ARWB Director has acted as a liaison with SAW/Catalyst Learning to inform Georgia’s other 19 state workforce boards regarding the project - so that a statewide rollout may take place. The ARWB Director recently spoke at the Heartland Symposium in St. Louis on the SAW project as part of the Career Pathways USDOL agenda. USDOL has recently acknowledged School at Work with an Honorable Mention in its 2006 Recognition of Excellence awards. The award ceremony will take place at the Workforce Innovations Conference in July. So far, over 235 employers in 33 states have used the SAW “Building a Career Ladder in Health Care” model since 2002. For additional information, please contact: Atlanta Regional Workforce Area (404) 463-3100

June 19, 2006