Archive for the ‘Soft skills’ Category

Creating Accelerated Career Pathways into Healthcare

August 4, 2015 1 comment

BLOG_AcceleratePathwaysHealthcare-1According to Manpower’s 2015 Talent Shortage Survey (#TalentShortage), nursing occupations is #7 on a list of 10 industries. For survey purposes, nurses includes:

Non-degree: CMAs, PCAs, CNAs, HHAs, LPNs, and LVNs

Degreed: RNs

Advanced degree: APNs, NPs,  PAs, CLNs, CNSs, CNMs, CRNAs

Doctoral degree: DNPs, PhDs


According to Stephanie Neuvirth, chief human resources and diversity officer at City of Hope in Duarte, CA:

“Jobs in accounting, finance, IT and administration are plentiful in health care. Although these jobs provide the infrastructure for the health care industry, parents, guidance counselors and students don’t realize they exist.”

Career fields such as healthcare, especially where patient contact is key, are challenging to fill because success depends on having the right combination of soft skills, technical skills, and physical ability. Certain roles in health care also needs individuals who are able to relate to the cultural and spiritual norms of the patient. Healthcare providers in Duarte, CA understand this challenge all too well, as 71% of their patients are Hispanic.

“Only 6 percent of the physicians and 8 percent of the nurses in the U.S. are Hispanic”

When I look across the landscape of career education, I see many schools providing training in allied healthcare, yet employers still struggle to get the type of employee they really need. It’s clear that the typical training program is not quite hitting the mark. In some cases the problem is the curriculum, in other cases the problem is access to internships, but in some cases (and I hate to say this) it’s the student. I’ve had first-hand experience on numerous occasions where a student wanted to join my healthcare training program because “there’s a lot of jobs in healthcare”. As a program manager, if your primary concern was getting enough students enrolled into the course to meet your revenue target, it may be easy to fill your class with students who can do the technical skills of medical care, but who lack the genuine compassion for patient care. These type of students will ultimately be fairly unemployable in the healthcare industry. As workforce development planners and education & training providers I believe this is something that deserves our consideration.

There are three programs making an impact on suring-up our need for qualified and quality health care talent I’d like to share with you:

CareerSTAT is “an initiative to document and endorse the business case for investments in frontline hospital workers and to establish an employer-led advocacy council to promote investments that yield strong skill development and career outcomes for low-wage, frontline hospital workers”. Nearly 100 health care organizations partner with CareerSTAT including Kaiser Permanente and Banner Health. Some of their activities include:

  • An employer-led national collaboration of health care leaders
  • A clearinghouse for best practices in health care and shared information in training development
  • A focus on early college and career pathway programs and provides low-income and minority students with access to in-demand health care careers
  • Work towards initiatives that would get Hispanic youth engaged in health care careers

TEACH Project (Train, Educate, and Accelerate Careers in Healthcare)- seeks to create skilled workers in health IT. This project works with high-school students to provide education, training and job shadowing opportunities, integrated with their current school studies. Students concurrently receive high-school credit, community college credit, and on the job experience that accelerates their entrance into a job in the medical field.

Homebridge, Inc in San Mateo, CA – One of the most advanced employer-based, entry-level training programs into the medical field. The Homebridge training program provides adult-centered, competency- based training curriculum, designed to be accessible to students with a minimum of 6th grade proficiency. The training highlights the value of hands-on learning and includes a simulation apartment where caregivers can practice with beds, wheelchairs, and bathroom facilities. Success in the classroom is supported in the field by peer mentors who provide on- the-job training and a work-life coach who addresses barriers to job retention. Because of their strong emphasis on training & development, Homebridge’s 37% turnover rate for frontline caregivers is 31% lower than the 54% national average.



As workforce developers and education & training providers move forward with WIOA (Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act) implementation activities, I believe programs like these give great models to emulate, but more so, some good starting points for finding the right kind of partnerships. Remember, partnerships and “stackablity” are key components to a successful WIOA funded program.

This article is based on my own research, therefore I have no endorsement of any kind from these three programs. If you’d like to read more about them you’ll find articles at these two links.

CareerSTAT & TEACH –

Homebridge, Inc:

Michelle Walker-Wade Workforce & Training Professional

Michelle Walker-Wade
Workforce & Training Professional


Workplace Skills – Knowledge, Integrity and Excellent Customer Service

happy-customersI went to several stores the other day looking to make a large purchase. I had already researched my item online, read lots of reviews, and had a pretty good idea what I was looking for. My visits to local retailers was, more or less, to see which sales reps would be most knowledgeable, prove they could add value, and to see who would sell with integrity. Without these three benefits, I could easily purchase my item from Amazon for a lower price. I visited three retailers: Staples, Best Buy and Fry’s Electronics. Surprisingly, after talking to two representatives at Best Buy I knew I would not be making my purchase there. One representative was unknowledgeable; giving “canned” responses he’d clearly been taught to say, but that he did not understand. The other representative was a little more knowledgeable but was very dishonest. He held back on information and even demo’d the product in a way that prevented me from seeing some of the specific features I wanted. Best Buy was out.

Next, I visited Staples. The rep there was pleasantly honest about the item and the add-on services Staples could (and could not) provide. At one point I said: “Wow! You’re giving up a lot of information here.” He responded: “Our store manager is big on honesty, so that’s how we do it.” I was sold on their integrity; but unfortunately they did not have the specific model I wanted in-house any more. I put Staples on stand-by while I went to visit Fry’s Electronics.

Now at Fry’s, I find myself working with a rep who I’d give a 75% on knowledgeableness. What he did not know, however, he proved exceptionally driven to find out. He called three other reps as well as his department manager and went online to do some research. He found all the answers I needed and was even able to get me some added perks for the time I spent waiting for him to find good answers. He kept saying “I don’t want you to get home and be dissatisfied with your purchase.” I can appreciate that! Fry’s Electronics got the sale.

I’m pleased with my purchase, and have visited Staples for additional purchases since then. I went back to Best Buy and found the sales rep who had originally given canned answers. I encouraged him to take time and really learn his products. Employers want people with great soft skills,who can communicate knowledgably and who are driven to give great customer service. Customers come back to businesses they trust.

“Ancient Jewish wisdom teaches that the first question we will all be asked when we arrive in judgment before the Heavenly Throne is “Did you conduct your business affairs in a trustworthy way?” – Rabbi Daniel Lapin


10 Things to Refuse in 2015

January 2, 2015 Leave a comment

10 Things to Refuse in 2015i-refuse-to-lower-my-standards-to-accomodate-who-refuse-to-raise-their-standards

  1. Refuse to be unfocused 
  2. Refuse to be unauthentic
  3. Refuse to live undisciplined 
  4. Refuse to live marginalized by any system or institution
  5. Refuse to ignore your inner-knowing
  6. Refuse not to accept responsibility for your own life-outcomes and life-choices
  7. Refuse to not set SMART goals  with a strategic plan to accomplish them
  8. Refuse to allow processed foods and fast foods to be your regular go-to meals
  9. Refuse to buy things on credit when you can save-up for a few months and spend cash
  10. Refuse to be stagnated in any area of your life.

Wishing you an AWESOME new year! No excuses…

Michelle Walker-Wade Workplace Literacy Expert

Michelle Walker-Wade
Workplace Literacy Expert

Giving and Receiving Feedback

February 19, 2013 2 comments

Feedback-TalkingNo matter what business or industry you may work in, you will benefit from networking, partnering, and supporting other like-minded business people.  One of the benefits of having this type of working relationship is that you can give and receive feedback in a non-threatening environment.  The key to taking advantage of this benefit is you must be free to speak constructively and be open to hear fully.

The other day I met with a fellow education manager who is trying, as we all are, to breath life into a limping system – the system that provides career education options for adults who are not a good fit for 4-year college programs.  At this meeting, she asked me for feedback on an assessment she gives to potential students. I shared openly and even showed her some example alternatives.  After our meeting, she emailed:

I thoroughly enjoyed our meeting and your mind extraordinaire.  You are indeed a wealth of knowledge and the most generous person I know – you’re a super professional to boot. Wow! Thanks for this information.  It’s obviously the way to go and I will revisit the other assessments.  Thank you so much for your candor.  I had others critique my assessments but no one made any suggestions. I really appreciate another set of eyes. – ones attached to an intelligent brain…

I also picked her brain for some dirty little details about our changing industry, making the meeting a win-win for both of us.  This is what real networking can and should do for us. Everyone should leave the meeting with some part of an issue or wondering resolved. It just makes good business sense.

This, in my opinion, is when networking is really networking.  Here’s a video clip from several months ago where I shared similar words with you.

~ All the best to you!


Vocabulary Development for Workplace Communications – Presentation Slides

December 7, 2012 Leave a comment

On November 2, 2012 I gave a presentation for  the the Read.Write.Act 2012 Virtual Conference on national  literacy.  My topic was  “Developing Vocabulary for the Workplace”. Slides from that presentation are below.

If you would  like access to the sample lessons indicated on Slide 18, please message me with your email address. I will send you the link right away.


Vocabulary Development for Workplace Communications

October 27, 2012 Leave a comment

The Read.Write.Act 2012 Virtual Conference  convenes this Thursday and Friday, November 1-2, 2012.   The conference theme is: LITERACY AS A NATIONAL PRIORITY.

I will be presenting on the topic:  Vocabulary Development for Workplace Communications” on Friday at 1pm EST.

Why Develop Vocabulary?  Vocabulary is fundamental to every other literacy skill and for most communication skills. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers the Job Outlook 2012 report, employers want employees who can communicate.  Here’s how communication skills rated based on a five-point scale:

In my presentation I will discuss how we as  educators and literacy advocates can provide learning opportunities that are relevant for today’s workforce, engaging and appropriate for our population of learners, and that has enough breadth and depth to prepare them to meet their employer’s needs.

The registration fee  for both days is only $25. I encourage you to register, as the wealth of information you’ll receive is well worth the money.  Click here to see the full conference schedule.

I see a countless numbers of students complete vocational training programs in health care, accounting, computer applications, and more who – despite their high scores on these technical skills – cannot obtain and/or maintain employment because they’re unable to communicate with employers, co-workers and customers. For some, the employers gives them a try, just to see how it goes; but it’s not long before they’re let go.  We cannot neglect the importance of this skill as a core, foundational employment skill.

I hope you’ll join us for this workshop and conference.  Please check it out.

Michelle Walker-Wade
Workplace Literacy &
Career Strategy