Defining the Problem that Brought the Team Together
Between 2000 and 2010, San Mateo County saw the most significant increase in the number of immigrants of any county in the state. The top countries of origin for immigrants to San Mateo County are Mexico, the Philippines, China and El Salvador, with 53% being US citizens, 24.5% being non-citizens with a green card or visa, and 22.5% being undocumented. According to a recent survey conducted by the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, in partnership with the Silicon Valley Center for Global Studies at San Jose State University, the median length of time that immigrants had been living in the county was 14 years. While the majority of immigrants in San Mateo County are long-term residents, a significant number struggle with low-wage jobs, limited prospects for advancement (and the economic insecurity that creates), and discrimination. In the same survey, 74% of respondents cited needing help finding a job as among their most significant needs, after access to healthy food (83%), affordable housing (80%), and access to health care (78%).
Implicit in survey findings is the need for access to training which could help position immigrants for better jobs with opportunities for advancement. Forty percent of survey respondents reported earning less than $20,000 per year. To put this in context, the Insight Center for Community Economic Development has determined that to meet basic expenses for a family of four in San Mateo County requires an income of $78,945 per year - that is the equivalent of more than four minimum-wage, full-time jobs.
Health care continues to provide strong job opportunities with significant anticipated growth over the next five years (12% between 2010 and 2020). Not only does health care offer a sufficient number of jobs to make it a priority sector, it offers an effective mix of entry level and middle wage jobs with clear skills and competencies associated with each role, making it highly aligned with a credential-bearing training structure. Between 2013 and 2014 almost a quarter of all health care job postings were middle skill jobs requiring less than a bachelor’s degree, suggesting that there is strong and growing demand for positions for which candidates could seek stackable credentials in order to be viable candidates.
Description of the Partners
Jewish Vocational Service (JVS) transforms lives by helping people build skills and find jobs to achieve self-sufficiency. Through 40 years of providing employment and training services to jobseekers throughout the Bay Area, JVS has emerged as a leader in the field of workforce development, serving approximately 4,000 job seekers each year, with specializations in youth training and supportive needs and a sector approach to connecting clients with training and employment. Complex and constantly shifting labor market dynamics, coupled with the varied needs of jobseekers, require a collaborative approach to building a strong and sustainable workforce. JVS is recognized for partnering closely with employers, government, educational institutions, philanthropic organizations, and community-based organizations to develop programs that match the needs of clients with the hiring needs of regional employers. JVS' dual customer approach to workforce development leads to high job placement and employer satisfaction.
Located on an 111-acre site overlooking the Pacific Ocean just south of San Francisco in San Bruno, Skyline College offers world-class educational opportunities to residents from North San Mateo County and beyond in a culturally rich and globally informed environment. Over 17,000 students annually enroll in a broad range of affordable day, evening, weekend and online courses. Students can complete transfer degrees (AA-T/AS-T) guaranteeing admission into the CSU system, or lower division general education requirements at Skyline College and then transfer to four-year colleges and universities to earn a bachelor’s degree. Other Skyline College students graduate and achieve an Associate in Arts (A.A.) or Associate in Science (A.S.) degree. Additionally, Skyline College offers the latest in career technical education through such nationally acclaimed programs as Allied Health, Automotive Technology, Business, Cosmetology, Emergency Medical Technician, Environmental Technology, Hospitality, Retail and Tourism, Massage Therapy, Respiratory Therapy and Surgical Technology. Skyline offers 34 Associate Degree programs and 53 Certificate programs. Students benefit from excellent educational programs, state-of-the-art technology, One Stop Student Support Services, integrated student services and instruction through learning communities and an innovative environment that supports student success.
Original Work Plan
JVS has long experience in supporting and leading the City of San Francisco’s Healthcare Academy. The Academy serves clients who meet the federal “low income” guidelines, aligns local healthcare vocational training programs with labor market needs and builds on partner strengths to increase the number of allied health training and employment opportunities in San Francisco. The Academy leverages JVS’s and partners’ experience in healthcare training, certification and wrap-around support services to create a streamlined experience for individual job-seekers and employers. Skyline Community College offers in-demand certificates in Allied Health as part of the college’s Career Advancement Academies. Thus, the team came together to as part of BCPIW to learn together from best practices and model partnerships to dive deeply into training and work-based learning for immigrants within occupations in Allied Health.
To accomplish their initial plan, the team identified three goals to accomplish as part of the BCPIW initiative.
Define a program model.
Determine and reach target population to be included in cohort.
Determine employer(s) for customized training and internship/workplace learning.
Beginning in the Spring 2016 semester, Skyline will offer a targeted ESOL for healthcare course with an emphasis on patient navigation and preparation for other allied health careers at the South San Francisco and Jefferson Adult Schools. While this offering will not encompass the full 17-unit certificate, it will articulate with existing pathways in allied health including patient navigation, medical assisting and the Career Advancement Academy for Allied Health at Skyline. In addition to healthcare communication, medical terminology, health systems and disease management, the curriculum will embed the following elements: college counseling to help interested students transition to Skyline; career counseling to identify pathways and pursue opportunities for internships and employment; and First Aid & Healthcare CPR training and certification.
Initially, the team planned to replicate the model used by JVS for the Healthcare Academy in which work-based learning and internships are a required component. The team struggled with recruiting employers to provide internships and as a result, had to reconsider and redefine the partnership and their roles. As such, the team has addressed the ways in which JVS’s outreach, support and placement expertise could support immigrant job seekers by potentially outreaching to eligible students at Skyline not yet connected to Allied Health programs as well as to recipients of services at other CBOs in the area; providing additional supports and job readiness training to participants while in the program; and supporting placement upon program completion.
Impact of the Initiative and Lessons Learned
Because Patient Navigator, like Community Health Worker, is an emerging occupation, it has been more challenging to define the labor market need and potential employer partners than originally anticipated. These roles are defined differently depending upon how each organization is deploying them. For some organizations, patient navigation is an activity rather than a full-time position. JVS is actively pursuing employers around their need for support in these emerging roles within allied health, both to support this partnership and as part of our work around Community Health Workers as a possible growth occupation. While the team has made some progress establishing relations with providers such as Stanford and Dignity Health, they have not been able to secure commitment from an employer for a partnership focused on placing job seekers as Patient Navigators.
The team recognized how important it is to remain flexible and that initial plans may need to be reassessed. The team found that they would not have been able to pursue the partnership with the SSF and Jefferson adult schools if the team was wedded to the 17-unit certificate model. Thus, they are repackaging the essential elements of patient navigation in an accelerated curriculum. This readjusted curriculum will target English language learners to prepare them to matriculate to Skyline for further education or for those ready for employment, prepare them with the essential skills to achieve a job in patient navigation, community health work or other health career.
Future Plans and Sustainability of the Partnership
Even though the team has encountered a number of challenges along the way, they believe they have forged a stronger partnership in which they are better able to build a stronger base of knowledge about each partner’s areas of expertise and partnership needs. They have pledged to continue to meet on a quarterly basis, and are working to identify more employer partners. Ultimately, the team would like to offer qualified students internship opportunities directly from the adult school to expedite entry into the job market.
The partners also see two potential pathways emerging: an integrated pathway for ELLs, immigrants and refugees that blends Skyline’s training with JVS’s workforce services and supports once a committed employer is in place; or a blended model that meets the training and employment needs of immigrant participants and non-immigrant participants. In either scenario, JVS would provide extra training and support to help move participants through the hiring process and support retention within the employment setting, while Skyline would expand the certificate trainings to potentially incorporate a short-course Home Health Aid and/or a Community Emergency Response Team certificate.
Ray Hernandez, Dean Science, Math and Technology, Skyline College
Paul Rueckhaus, Health Science Faculty, Skyline College
Beth Urfer Vice President of Programs, Jewish Vocational Service