The critically important role of health care workers has never been more apparent than now as we enter a second winter with COVID-19. Minnesota’s nursing assistants, RNs, respiratory therapists and many others have saved thousands of lives during the pandemic. They need more Minnesotans to join them in this noble and lifesaving work. That’s why Governor Walz has proclaimed January as Health Care Month.
“There are tens of thousands of open health care positions throughout Minnesota – at every level, in every setting and in every part of the state,” said Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) Commissioner Steve Grove. “Caring people are needed now more than ever to make a difference in the lives of others – and get started on a fulfilling, in-demand career path.”
“COVID-19 is increasing the need for health care workers and worsening existing staff shortages in some settings,” said Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) Commissioner Jodi Harpstead. “We need people who want to help out during this extraordinary time to join their fellow Minnesotans by working in health care now.”
“The pandemic has highlighted the critical role health care workers play in our community as they care for us and our loved ones during the most difficult times. Health care workers in acute care and long-term care settings have been some of our biggest heroes over the last two years,” said Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Commissioner Jan Malcolm. “We continue to work with employers and partners to support training of health care workers to fill these critical roles.”
“We need to ensure that our students know about the many career pathways that exist within the health care profession, and how each of these pathways can intersect with other areas of career interest,” said Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) Commissioner Dr. Heather Mueller. “High school students age 15 and older have an opportunity to earn while they learn by engaging in training that allows them to be hired into age-appropriate health care employment.”
“Providing training opportunities for students and others who want to enter a health care career is critically important,” said Minnesota Office of Higher Education (OHE) Commissioner Dennis Olson. “Our training pipelines have been disrupted by the pandemic and that means we’re reaching out in new ways to prepare Minnesotans for critically needed positions. From free training for certified nursing assistants to our Minnesota Future Together grants creating tuition-free pathways for students pursuing education in high-need career areas at public institutions, we are making vital investments in the future health of our state.”
During Health Care Month, special focus will be put on sharing health care employment opportunities with unemployed Minnesotans, Minnesotans looking for a fulfilling career, as well as students at both the high school and college level.
Many entry-level health care positions can be started with employer-provided training, and many of those positions leverage skills and experience from other industries – meaning people with employment experience from other sectors are encouraged to apply. Wages go up with additional training and certification, which in some cases is also paid for by the employer. There is projected long-term demand for many health care positions, according to DEED’s Labor Market Information office, as well as critically high current demand for many health care workers.
DEED and its partners in CareerForce are hosting health care hiring events around the state. MDE is sharing health care career exploration information and encouraging school leaders and teachers to connect with local health care employers hiring high school age students now. OHE is leading an effort to enroll, train and deploy 1,000 Certified Nursing Assistants to long-term care locations by the end of January. DHS is engaging in intensified efforts to connect direct support professionals with Minnesotans with disabilities who need them. MDH is exploring ways to expand access to health care employment by addressing pandemic-induced training and certification bottlenecks and encouraging vaccinations to reduce the burden on the health care system. Minnesota leaders believe that by working together we can connect Minnesotans with career path employment in critically needed health care positions and address our health care workforce shortage.