Case Study - Southeast Minnesota Pre-Employment Healthcare Academy

Southeast Minnesota Pre-Employment Healthcare Academy

The Problem: High, costly turnover rates at long term care facilities; safety and care concerns for elderly patients; high dropout rates in nursing assistance classes; a misunderstanding of the job by potential workers; and a low availability of diverse caretakers.

The Solution: The Pre-Employment Healthcare Academy works with businesses to fill job vacancies and increase retention rates; increases opportunities for low-income and disadvantaged populations to enter healthcare careers; and provides a much needed diverse healthcare workforce for the long-term care facilities of Southeast Minnesota.

What is the Pre-Employment Healthcare Academy?

  • It’s a four week training that provides potential students and jobseekers with a comprehensive understanding of the nature of the work, the skills needed and the career opportunities in the field of nursing.
  • Training is takes place in classrooms but also in healthcare facilities to ensure the Healthcare Academies are driven by current trends and needs, and that participants are mentored, supported and exposed to the real workplace.
  • The Healthcare Academy is a pre-cursor to enrolling in Certified Nursing Assistant classes, and completion of the Academy ensures access to CNA classes at the community college. Between completion of the Academy and enrollment into a CNA course, Workforce Development Inc and partners provide “bridge” activities such as basic skills, reading recognition and computer training so that students are ready to succeed.
  • Topics covered in the Academy include: Communications; Problem solving; Decision-making; Personal wellness; Workplace terminology; Achieving your potential; Job & career awareness; Study & test taking skills; Introduction to CNA coursework; Workplace culture/job shadowing

Why a pre-employment academy?

  • WDI didn’t assume any solutions before digging deep into data, getting critical input from employers, and listening to workers and jobseekers about barriers to success.
  • WDI did its data homework: Labor Market Information showed a set of industries critical to the local economy, based on number of jobs and industry growth rates. The long-term care industry scored high on both. They also discovered high and costly turnover rates at local long-term care facilities by talking to HR directors.
  • When they studied the CNA pipeline, they found unusually high dropout rates, and uncovered the reasons why, including a lack of basic skills needed to succeed through completion, and a misunderstanding by students of the career field they were entering.

The Southeast Minnesota Pre-Employment Healthcare Academy provides an opportunity for participants to:

  • Increase their confidence and help them reach their personal potential
  • Evaluate and plan for a career in healthcare
  • Prepare to be successful in formal college training with tutoring and study skills assistance
  • Understand current healthcare career opportunities and obligations

Does it work?

  • Return on Investment: 567%
  • Cost per participant: $700 plus $900 for NA classes and certification; $1,600 total.
  • Results of Business Value Assessment analysis: Average cost of turnover to area LTC facilities is $13,000 per person. LTC facilities connected to the HCA program experience roughly half the statewide turnover rate.
  • Healthcare Coordinator position created and funded to keep the program going.
  • Workforce Development, Inc. is replicating the process for local manufacturing and renewable energy industries.

What makes it work?

  • It is industry-driven. Employers guide curriculum development and revisions; they partner with WDI to give Academy graduates preference upon CAN completion; they offer their facilities and equipment for training purposes.
  • It is convened and coordinated by WDI. A staff person convenes employers for input; recruits and screens students; connects students with employers as they transition to employment; works with both the employees and employers on retention issues; connects and coordinates with other local partners; and manages administrative issues.
  • It is locally based. The academy relies on local partners, including workforce centers, employers, Adult Basic Education program providers; the community colleges, and local media. It works because the solution to the problem is customized to the needs of local long-term care facilities and the local workforce.

About Workforce Development, Inc.

WDI is a local workforce investment board serving 10 counties in Southeast Minnesota. WDI’s vision is to develop and advance the workforce of Southeast Minnesota by acting as:

  • A champion for workers
  • A convening agent bringing partners together to solve workforce problems
  • A change agent to promote and facilitate innovation and creative solutions
  • The agency accountable to the individuals, businesses and communities we serve, providing measurable change

For more information, contact:
Becky Thofson, Industrial Sectors Projects Manager
Workforce Development, Inc., 1302 Seventh Street NW, Rochester, MN 55901
(507) 259-5209 (cell); email: