Over the last several years, regardless of whether the economy was growing or cratering, one of the unchangeable factors was the constant need for trained personnel in the health care industry.

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Over the last several years, regardless of whether the economy was growing or cratering, one of the unchangeable factors was the constant need for trained personnel in the health care industry. But just because there are jobs available doesn’t always mean there are enough qualified job candidates to fill these in-demand spots — especially as older workers in the health care industry begin to retire in greater numbers.

In an effort to solve this perennial problem of high demand and low supply, the Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County (WDC) last week announced that it is launching a program, funded by a $9.4 million award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to “build up the health care workforce” in the region.

Called the Health Workforce for the Future (HWF) project, the program will work in tandem with regional healthcare employers, colleges, housing authorities and community partners to help connect job seekers with high-quality jobs in the healthcare field. With assistance from the state’s Employment Security Department, the program will also find training and development resources to prepare job candidates for health care work.

Over the next five years, the grant program under WDC will “leverage, redesign and enhance existing training program strategies” for certain categories of job candidates that are most in need of attention. According to WDC, this training will be for:

  • individuals who remain unemployed, or have tenuous connections to the workforce,
  • incumbent workers in need of support for wage and career progression, and
  • low-income youth, who are critical to the future workforce but remain disconnected from the labor force.

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The program came about as a result of recent changes in the health care system that advocate a more prevention-oriented focus, along with demographic shifts in the patient population, which put new demands on the health workforce, said WDC. The HWF program will help local employers increase workforce diversity and provide greater access to “occupational pathways” for the above categories of potential new hires listed above.

“Despite King County’s incredible economic growth, many job seekers have been left behind,” said Marléna Sessions, CEO of the King County WDC. “Our innovative work and strong employer partnerships in this field are unparalleled, and we are excited to build upon this foundation.”

The program is still relatively new, so expect to see more details in the coming months. For more information about the Health Workforce for the Future program, please see the Seattle-King County WDC site.

Randy Woods is a writer and editor in the Puget Sound business publishing arena and a veteran of the local job-search scene. Email him at randywoods67@gmail.com.