SALT LAKE CITY, UT and OAKLAND, CA – Western Governors University (WGU) and Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) today announced a new partnership aimed at closing the talent gap facing California’s, even the nation’s, healthcare workforce and putting thousands of students on the road to sustainable careers. Through unprecedented collaboration, and a new Education-to-Work model, WGU and SEIU-UHW will partner with healthcare employers to deliver a diverse array of educational experiences, including certifications, apprenticeships, and stackable microcredentials, that will continuously advance the career success of healthcare workers.
The partnership’s first program, the Medical Coding Career Accelerator Program (MCCAP), which includes industry-recognized medical coding certifications, is being launched today. Students who complete the program will earn a Certified Professional Coder (CPC®) credential—the most recognized medical coding certification in the healthcare industry. Like all WGU programs, the MCCAP is online and competency-based, structured to fit into the lives of busy professionals.
Nationally, the healthcare sector is projected to create more jobs than any other area in the U.S. economy. In California alone, medical providers will need to fill 400,000 positions in the next five years with skilled workers, not including doctors, nurses, and dentists. These roles grow more complex each year, and increasingly require higher levels of knowledge, integrated service, and ability to leverage big data and AI-enabled technologies to provide more personalized, life-long care for individuals. Emerging needs in emotional and behavioral health, combined with an aging population, are also bringing care closer to where individuals live and work, requiring greater specialized, yet integrated, care.
“Our goal is to ensure that prosperity in California will extend broadly to all members of our state, including communities of color, historically disadvantaged communities and rural communities” said Dave Regan, President of SEIU-UHW “while also addressing the need to improve California's population health outcomes, in part, by ensuring the next generation of caregivers will reflect the diversity and possess the language and cultural competencies necessary to deliver care effectively to our unique population.”
Filling these critical positions and meeting the large volume demand in California will require attracting and enabling mid-career adults. The targeted student strategy combined with WGU’s virtual delivery model allow the partnership to find, matriculate, and serve under-represented adults in the communities where they live. In addition to connecting an under-utilized talent pool with employers, this strategy will provide these adults with proven pathways to greater social mobility.
“Education has always been key to connecting individuals with opportunity, and we know that 21st century workers will need to be lifelong learners, continually adding new skills and competencies, if they hope to advance their careers,” said WGU President Scott Pulsipher. “At WGU, where more than 70 percent of our students are part of at least one underserved population and the average age is 36, we have a strong track record for delivering personalized learning experiences that lead to great outcomes for our students, as well as the organizations that employ them.”
“It's important to us that employees have every available opportunity to develop and grow in their careers,” says Scott Fuller, Vice President of Employee and Labor Relations at CommonSpirit Health. "We hope that collaborations such as these help provide additional paths towards that development."
SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) is one of the largest unions of hospital workers in the western United States with more than 95,000 members. Learn more at www.seiu-uhw.org.