HCC and Dwyer developing skilled talent pipeline for Houston healthcare workers

Mar 28, 2023

Texas is facing a nursing shortage that could leave the state with 57,000 fewer nurses than needed in less than a decade.

To address this shortage, Houston Community College (HCC) and Dwyer Workforce Development (Dwyer) are teaming up to leverage partners across the region to train new healthcare workers who will impact the industry long-term.

The two organizations will come together to launch the Dwyer Scholar Apprenticeship program, which will support 500 apprentices in earning their Clinical Nursing Assistant (CNA) certificates each yearThis effort will help address the region’s skilled workforce shortage while providing opportunities for motivated, high-potential students to enter the workforce.

This innovative program also aligns with HCC’s and the State of Texas’ commitment to achieving specific, measurable outcomes by serving more students, awarding credentials of value, and developing the highly skilled workers that employers need.

“HCC is excited to partner with Dwyer to educate, train, and support 500 new healthcare professionals every year,” said Dr. Frances Villagran-Glover, president of HCC Southeast College where the apprenticeship program will be based. “These apprentices will be well prepared to serve our diverse communities and improve healthcare in Houston while also improving their own lives.”

Dwyer Workforce Development is a Maryland-based non-profit. It recently acquired 64 skilled nursing facilities in Texas, including a half-dozen in Houston and southeast Texas, and is converting them into nonprofits.

Houston-area residents interested in becoming Dwyer Scholar Apprentices can apply through HCC’s Gulf Coast Region Apprenticeship Hub. The first group of apprentices begin classes this month.

According to Texas Health Data, 349,000 nurses will be needed in 2032 — but only 292,000 will be available. The Dwyer Scholar Apprenticeship program will help create a workforce pipeline to close that 57,000-person gap in skilled nurses.

Coordinated by HCC’s Office of Work-Based Learning and Industry Partnerships, the program is a first-of-its-kind initiative that will partner with other not-for-profits to produce measurable outcomes. It will offer both professional training and vital wraparound services to CNA students, thereby removing the barriers that exist for many people who lack opportunity.

During the year-long apprenticeship, participants will receive advanced education, competitive wages, health benefits, and hands-on experience while working towards their licenses. They also can pursue stackable credentials and additional certifications.

Apprentices can specialize in either phlebotomy or EKG and will be eligible to enter HCC’s bachelor's in healthcare management program once they earn their certificates.

The apprentices will also receive mentoring, career support, and financial assistance for childcare, housing, and transportation. Unexpected, everyday problems in these areas too often prevent individuals from underserved communities from earning their certificates and entering the workforce.

“Circumstances should not define your life, and we are proud to partner with HCC to change the circumstances for hundreds of Houston-area apprentices,” said Dwyer CEO Barb Clapp. “Great things happen when you give people the tools to change their lives, and that’s what we plan to accomplish.”

Under the model successfully used in Maryland, Dwyer partners with not-for-profits, workforce development organizations, and training programs to recruit and support students to become CNAs. More than 95 percent of the students that Dwyer has supported have either earned their certificates and are now employed or on track to do so.

HCC’s Gulf Coast Region Apprenticeship Hub is already the primary source in the region to connect individuals seeking apprenticeships with companies looking to hire or train new workers.

“HCC’s Gulf Coast Region Apprenticeship Hub is proud to partner with Dwyer to create a talent solution and pathway to meeting the needs of the growing healthcare staffing crisis. This apprenticeship is central to our mission to bring together people seeking learning and employees and to improve our communities,” said Dr. Christina Robinson, HCC’s executive director of Work-Based Learning and Industry Partnerships.

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