National Fund Employers Recognized By UpSkill America

At a White House summit last Friday, the National Fund joined policymakers including U.S. Secretaries of Labor, Education, and Commerce, workforce practitioners, and leading employers from across the country to share insights into training workers and helping frontline workers acquire the skills necessary for career advancements. At the summit, participants worked in small groups and discussed key issues such as apprenticeships, credentials, and approaches to on-the-job training. The groups also heard Vice President Biden’s remarks highlighting some of the participating companies’ upskilling commitments.

Since its creation in 2007, the National Fund has worked to advance the cause of frontline worker advancement and to champion examples of exemplary companies making targeted investments in their workforces. As Executive Director of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions Fred Dedrick said, “We applaud the work of these employers from a variety of our nation’s fastest growing and most evolving industries. We are elated that they have the opportunity to attend the White House Summit and showcase their hard work and commitment to investing in their workforce.”

The following National Fund partners were recognized by UpSkill America as outstanding examples of businesses investing in the skills and careers of their frontline workers.

American Fan
American Fan sponsors a manufacturing apprenticeship program and has been a champion in recruiting other employers to participate. American Fan apprentices receive employer-sponsored benefits, college credit, nationally recognized industry certifications (American Welding Society), and participation in a hybrid wage-progression scale. American Fan offers a minimum of 2000 on-the-job training hours annually, in addition to 240 hours of related technical instruction. American Fan’s apprenticeship schedule was developed to meet the needs of both employers and workers.

Austal USA
In 2015, Austal USA will establish a systematic job rotation plan, a leadership training program, and two new welding training programs. The job rotation plan will enable the cross training of more than 2,000 frontline workers, the leadership training program will afford more than 350 workers the opportunity to move into leadership positions, and the welding training programs will position Austal’s current welding pool of nearly 500 to expand their career opportunities. To date, Austal has served more than 2,000 workers through a variety of training and support programs, all of which have resulted in impressive outcomes data. It has partnered with local high schools, community colleges, and other manufacturers in order to align the region’s training curricula and array of industry-recognized credentials.

B. Braun Medical Inc.
Meeting all six of UpSkill America’s commitments, B. Braun Medical Inc. trains its workers on new technology through a training program (with a 96% completion rate) created in partnership with local technical schools, provides tuition reimbursement to fund additional employee development, provides an apprenticeship program to train new workers, and pays its employees through a skill-based wage system. B. Braun Medical Inc. makes community investments by operating its Rotational Internship Network, which gives students the opportunity to work for various regional manufacturers prior to education completion.

Barton Malow
Barton Malow has created, and is currently implementing, an advanced apprenticeship program and an emerging-leaders training. Through these programs, the company is investing in its future leaders and developing their skills and knowledge. Barton Malow invests in both on-the-job and off-the-job formal training programs to grow both technical and personal skills of its frontline workers. This education provides skills that not only enable frontline workers to excel in their current trade or responsibility, but also prepare them for career advancement or transition into management or administrative roles in the company. Additionally, Barton Malow offers tuition reimbursement to employees wishing to obtain a job-related license or certification. Approximately 25% of the company’s current officers started as frontline workers.

Belcan Corporation
Belcan Corporation recruits its talent pipeline from various community organizations with a focus on the homeless, dislocated youth, and military veterans. The company seeks to be a training ground for engineering support-services jobs in manufacturing. At Belcan, workers are given both on-site and formal training from local colleges and are employed at the onset of skills training. The company maintains a mentor-like relationship with new employees, encouraging regular communication with supervisors and assisting with barriers that may affect work performance along the way. A leader within its community, Belcan is actively involved in quarterly Manufacturing Partnership meetings with employers, co-convened by the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology (the local manufacturing intermediary with the Workforce Solutions Collaborative of Metro Hartford) and Capital Workforce Partners (the Hartford-area Workforce Investment Board), sharing best practices and influencing other employers.

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
After assessing its current career development offerings, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) has committed to enhancing these offerings by encouraging career conversations between employees and their managers and using multiple innovative communication tools to enroll more employees into its existing training programs. While this effort will target all 10,000 Beth Israel employees, of particular interest is the organization’s goal of encouraging frontline workers to enroll in one of its pipeline programs, which train employees into ten different positions facing shortages and provide opportunities for new jobs and higher wages. With over 450 participants in its training programs each year, BIDMC plans to use its communications and conversation strategy to increase employee participation in training programs and increase employee engagement and retention. These efforts complement BIDMC’s Employee Career Initiative, which provides employees with free on-site college courses, ESOL and financial literacy courses, support from an in-house career and academic advisor, and tutoring from volunteer BIDMC employees.

BMC HealthNet Plan
With its competency-model awareness campaign, BMC HealthNet Plan aims to more effectively hire, develop, and retain its workers by improving interview and selection processes, enhancing employee development, and rewarding employees for exemplary performance. Through the employer’s Learning Management System and its generous tuition reimbursement program, employees have access to on- and off-site resources that teach them new skills and expand their understanding of key concepts. BMC HealthNet Plan seeks to expand these programs by launching Operation A.B.L.E. (Ability Based on Long Experience), which provides staff with a wide range of computer courses designed to improve their skills in areas such as Microsoft Office and computer security.

Boston Children’s Hospital
Boston Children’s Hospital is committed to expanding opportunities for its employees, thereby helping them develop personally and professionally, enhancing the hospital’s service delivery, and improving its patient experience and quality of care. Over the past seven years, Boston Children’s has been recognized on several occasions by the State of Massachusetts and the City of Boston for upskilling frontline workers. The hospital’s tuition reimbursement policy allows reimbursement for Associate’s and Bachelor’s degree programs that provide employees with skills for jobs offered at the hospital. The hospital’s Bridge to College program helps develop its entry-level workers by training them for high-growth, high-demand middle-skilled jobs within the organization—and by working with local colleges to identify academic training programs that prepare incumbent employees for those jobs. Eighty-two employees have received access to higher education through the Bridge to College program. Thirty-six have graduated with degrees or credentials, twenty-five are still in college, and twenty-six have received at least one promotion.

C.A. Hull Co., Inc.
C.A. Hull Co., Inc. facilitates and funds certification programs for employees that need further skill development, in addition to partnering with the Access for All program and local trade schools to offer employment opportunities through apprenticeships. It also participates in the Michigan Department of Transportation’s OJT (on-the-job training) program, which trains and monitors each trainee’s progress through monthly employer evaluations. This coming year, C.A. Hull Co., Inc. plans to pair its internal training processes with a mentorship program to improve candidate completion and success.

Cox Machine, Inc.
Cox Machine provides on-site training to employees, works with community organizations to recruit new hires with limited experience, and has provided significant on-the-job training for eight workers at a cost of approximately $40,000. Cox Machine assists in curriculum development at Wichita Area Technical College for the National Aviation Consortium and has produced six new technical certificates for standardized credentials in technical education for aviation manufacturing. It is expanding its partnership with local public partners to create a registered apprenticeship in quality assurance, which will be the first RA program at Cox Machine and the first RA program focused on quality assurance in the state of Kansas.

EcoMize USA
EcoMize provides in-house training, free study materials, and paid time for employees to earn Building Performance Institute certifications while also offering general classes on business writing, energy efficiency, equipment training, and other continuing education credits. Furthermore, EcoMize uses industry certifications and skill mastery as a basis for employee advancement and wage raises. In 2015, EcoMize USA will encourage and provide reimbursements for formal higher education training and career relevant classes and will also sponsor an HVAC Apprenticeship program and create an electrician apprenticeship program.

Fives Machining Systems
Since 2007, Fives Cincinnati has invested in excess of $2 million (>$200,000 per worker) in worker training and education and has trained 14 apprentices in its state-certified apprenticeship program, with participants receiving an average wage increase of 57%. Fives also serves as a community and industry leader and has partnered with multiple local colleges in the creation of its apprenticeship program. It has designed a High School Ambassador program that exposes students to advanced manufacturing.

Genesis HealthCare
In 2015, Genesis HealthCare is focused on expanding the sites and numbers of CNA trainings to increase the available pool of frontline caregivers to new and existing nursing centers in New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and other states. Genesis seeks to incorporate these centers into the fabric of its company. With recent enhancements in its culinary culture, Genesis is also focusing on developing the competencies of its frontline staff by training them for occupations as cooks, servers, and others. Genesis HealthCare offers a variety of workforce training opportunities, such as Certified Nursing Assistant and Geriatric Nursing Assistant training, which allow frontline caregivers to obtain on-site certification and receive skills-based wage growth. To assist workers who are in a training program, Genesis also offers flexible scheduling and provides an in-house supplemental pool of nursing per diem staff to provide temporary staffing support in many locations. In collaboration with educational institutions and workforce development, Genesis HealthCare develops its employees with current and enhanced certifications and training in essential skills, culinary arts, Certified Medication Aide, mentorship, Graduate Nurse RN training, and LPN-to-RN tuition assistance support. Genesis continues to enhance its programs and partnerships every year.

Global Partner Solutions
In 2015, Global Partner Solutions, LLC will double its number of employees and open a secondary, higher-skill Design Center, which will create an internal career pathway for employees to receive on-the-job training and be eligible for promotions and skills-based wage raises. The 100% staffing increase is highly significant, given that 85% of the individuals hired by Global Partner Solutions have no prior experience; an exemplary investment is made in these frontline workers through training. The employer offers on-the job training, tuition reimbursement, and scholarships for all new hires and workers. Furthermore, it works within the community by offering paid internships for aerospace drafting and design students, establishing industry-wide curriculum and credentials, and working with local educators and workforce boards to close skills gaps.

Greater Boston Hospitality Employers
On May 1, 2015, the Greater Boston Hospitality Employers Local 26 (GBHE) trustees increased their investment in education and training for Local 26 incumbent workers. The 12 cents/per hour/per employee contribution to the education fund increased to 14 cents/per hour/per employee. BEST Corp. Hospitality Training Center and partners will roll out a new Room Attendant Apprenticeship Program, which will build on the success of the current Room Attendant Program (the return to society of which has been calculated at 673.66%). Additionally, BEST Corp. is pursuing articulation agreements with community colleges to enable some of its classes to provide college credits.

Jersey City Medical Center
Jersey City Medical Center (JCMC) is an excellent workforce model for health care employers in the state. As a member of the Barnabas Health system, Jersey City Medical Center has taken the lead in demonstrating to other hospitals in the nation what they have accomplished in workforce development. Barnabas Health is New Jersey’s largest health care provider and the state’s second-largest employer. JCMC has contributed more than $600,000 in tuition reimbursement in 2014, with a total of 132 employees benefiting. It also provides on-site post-secondary on-the-job training, a Pillar ladder program, and programs that train frontline workers and even unemployed residents to be EMTs at no cost to them. The attainment of skills has made JCMC employees more saleable, capable, and competent, often resulting in greater productivity. JCMC’s internal promotion averages 50%, and its turnover is about 8%, far below the health care national average. In addition, Jersey City Medical Center is in a partnership with the Boys and Girls Club and has developed a Charter High School for the Health Sciences, where students will graduate with certifications as EMTs and Patient Care Technicians. JCMC has made several commitments to its workforce for 2015, including increasing the number of frontline workers using higher education benefits by expanding eligibility.

Johns Hopkins Health System
Johns Hopkins assists its employees’ development through a range of benefits, including on-site certification programs, tuition assistance, salary release support for training in critical skills shortage occupations, online training platforms, and in-house support services. With this diverse array of services, Johns Hopkins employees are able to design custom programs to match their ambitions and their availability. Johns Hopkins is a community leader and advocate for widespread training and development. In partnership with its local health care industry intermediary (the Baltimore Alliance for Careers in Healthcare), Johns Hopkins engages local colleges and training centers to recruit individuals into careers in health care and to train individuals in high-demand skills.

LifeBridge Health
LifeBridge Health invests in its frontline workers by offering a broad range of training programs and support services, including a School at Work¨ program, tuition reimbursement or up-front payment, Central Sterile Processing training, life skills and career coaching, flexible work schedules, and reading, math, and computer literacy courses. LifeBridge Health is considering additional investments such as College of America, on-site higher education programs, apprenticeship programs, and portable credentials. In 2014, 334 LifeBridge employees received tuition assistance amounting to $1,506,907, 119 employees enrolled in Workforce Development courses with 69.7% completing, and 170 employees enrolled in career coaching programs. The average wage gain for frontline employees was 1.25%. Retention is currently at 82% for PCAs and 83% for GNAs.

Metaphase Technologies
Metaphase Technologies along with its sister company, LED Living Technology, has committed to a series of workforce-development priorities over the next year. These include: raising 20% of its current production line to management positions by 2016 (with increased salaries and opportunities for growth), selecting 20-30% of the current workforce for education at higher-level product lines, offering subsidized language software programs and classes to all employees, maintaining a 50% post-apprentice hiring frequency, maintaining full health care benefits for employees, renewing its funding for the Wounded Hero Project, and maintaining entry-level wages that are well above minimum wage. Metaphase technicians experience approximately 1,500 hours of training per year in upskilling. All participants in apprenticeship programs are paid above minimum wage and are given a minimum of 500 hours of training, with the remaining hours made up of hands-on experience.

Monogram Foods
Monogram Foods, a provider of prepared meats headquartered in Memphis, is implementing a range of investments in its frontline workforce, including increased wages and training to meet its significant growth. These changes require skilled team members, leads, and supervisors at all locations. In 2015, its minimum wage will increase to $10 p/hr across all locations. Also, it is adding additional training and development specialists who will focus on team members’ skills development and advancement, and it is expanding its partnerships with community and technical colleges to provide increased training and certification. Monogram Foods is creating new grades to existing positions to recognize skill development and advancement in the organization, and it is rolling out a company-wide campaign called “ID-3,” which encourages managers to each identify three frontline workers for increased mentoring and upskilling support.

North Sunflower Medical Center
By partnering with community colleges, the Mississippi Office of Nursing Workforce, and other partners, North Sunflower Medical Center is developing a multi-dimensional approach to attracting, retaining, and training frontline health care workers. North Sunflower Medical Center partners with Mississippi Delta community colleges to encourage staff to enter training for career advancement. The hospital provides services including bridge programs, assessments, mentoring, college credit, flexible scheduling, work-based learning, guidance from a Student Navigator, and certification programs tied to salary increases. The hospital has committed to expanding its work-based learning program in 2015.

Norton Healthcare Inc.
Norton Healthcare will lead the development of the Kentucky Health Career Center (KHCC), which is set to open in Summer 2015. This commitment bolsters Norton’s already substantial list of investments in workforce development initiatives, which total to $9 million annually. Norton’s Career Center alone serves over 1,000 students per year—73% of whom receive financial assistance. By leveraging its experience and results in developing effective career pathways for frontline workers, Norton intends to provide a model for the other participating employers in the KHCC—a model that Norton is sharing, even with competing organizations.

Ocean Spray Cranberries
Ocean Spray has been an active participant and financial supporter of the workforce collaborative in the region, and it has shared its practices with the regional manufacturing partnership. As part of its competency-based pay structure, Ocean Spray pays employees based on successful demonstration of their competencies regardless of the job they are performing at any given time. All of Ocean Spray’s shift leaders have come through an incumbent training program, and Ocean Spray is working to expand the Wisconsin State Youth Apprenticeship program into the manufacturing sector.

Peter Paul Electronics Co., Inc.
PeterPaul is a visible part of many Connecticut workforce boards focused on manufacturing. Its leaders have sought out incumbent worker training funds to develop the skills of current staff, and they have offered summer training opportunities to urban youth through local workforce investment boards. In addition, PeterPaul has contracted with outside training providers to assist with the development of curriculum to use in-house.

PTR Baler and Compactor Company
PTR Baler and Compactor Company is a founding member of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Workforce Development Partnership. PTR hires and trains unskilled and underskilled candidates from its local neighborhood, providing skills and credentials in applied welding, welding theory, blueprint reading, welding symbols, cranes and equipment, basic math, and measurements. Workers typically receive an increase of over 50% in their pay over their first two years of employment. In addition, PTR has had over 100 co-ops from five local schools and has a 100% graduation rate from its program. Almost all graduates either go on to post-secondary education or are hired as full-time employees.

Spirit AeroSystems
Spirit AeroSystems is a workforce leader, partnering with the Kansas Department of Commerce, the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors, the Kansas Post-Secondary Technical Education Authority, multiple state universities, state and local community groups, technical colleges, and other organizations to enhance the regional skills pipeline. Spirit invests in its frontline workers through in-house skills development, quality improvement programs, compliance-based skills programs, leadership development, a gain-share program, tuition reimbursement, industry-recognized credentials, and apprenticeship programs. In recent years, Spirit has hired more than 6,000 frontline workers, and it has invested millions of dollars in their training initiatives.

ThyssenKrupp Bilstein
As a critical partner in a highly successful apprenticeship program, ThyssenKrupp Bilstein is a leader in providing low-wage individuals with opportunities for training. The manufacturer is one of eight employers in its community to sponsor its local manufacturing apprenticeship program, which is designed to produce highly skilled machine operators through customized on-the-job training and related technical instruction. Participating apprentices receive employer-sponsored benefits, college credit, and nationally recognized industry certifications (NIMS). They also participate in a hybrid wage-progression scale. This program has not only allowed ThyssenKrupp Bilstein to find employees with critical talent but has also helped similar businesses employ and train new workers. Furthermore, by working in multiple local and national forums, ThyssenKrupp Bilstein is a national leader in the development of programs that train workers in manufacturing.

TriHealth, an employer partner in the Health Careers Collaborative of Greater Cincinnati, actively sponsors Associate Degree and career pathway programs for incumbent workers. The Associate Degree Cohort program, for example, has been highly successful, with 16 graduates to date, 27 individuals actively pursuing a degree, and 7 new entrants beginning cohort programs. These graduates received a degree in either nursing, respiratory therapy, or surgical technology, and 81% have earned a promotion so far. TriHealth invests heavily in its frontline workers, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars per year on its workers’ tuition payments alone. An ROI study has found that TriHealth’s training programs have reduced turnover, increased job satisfaction, and supported organizational diversity goals. A second ROI study is forthcoming.

Union Health Center
Union Health Center fosters continuous staff growth and professional development for its frontline workers through a three-tiered Medical Assistant (MA) training curriculum. The MA training curriculum provides all medical assistants with two-hour bi-weekly sessions over nine months. Employees moving through the career ladder benefit from a 29% difference in salary between MA level 1 and level 2 and a 30.9% salary difference between level 2 and level 3 of the career ladder. By providing medical assistants with an internal career path, the ladder has improved job retention, clinical and communications skills among MAs, quality, efficiency, and patient outcomes. Union Health Center also offers tuition benefits to its workers, and the majority of MAs that have moved through the career ladder have gone on to enroll in higher education programs in health care.

UnityPoint Health
Expanding upon the use of its retention specialists in preparing and assisting its frontline employees through its internal training programs, UnityPoint Health has agreed to partner with Vocational Rehabilitation services to directly place Vocational Rehabilitation clients into its organization. Building upon its 100% growth in the internal placement of supervisors, UnityPoint will continue to offer support services such as tuition assistance, free public transportation, talent retreats, and career coaching to identify the challenges and the correct programs for UnityPoint workers. Furthermore, UnityPoint will continue to focus on its training courses for individuals with disabilities that have achieved an employment placement rate of 80%.

Universal Woods
Universal Woods has taken a leadership role in the Employer Advisory Group for the Kentucky Manufacturing Career Center (KMCC). In 2014, Universal Woods spent more than $80,000 toward its frontline workers’ college studies and more than $125,000 toward on-site formal learning. That level of spending will increase by approximately 25% in 2015. In addition, Universal Woods offers flexible scheduling and provides 40 hours of pay even when an employee is unable to work part of a week. Retention among Universal Woods employees has increased from approximately 50% (prior to 2006) to greater than 95%. Quality, productivity, and product development have improved and contributed to the doubling of sales in just three years. Universal Woods is preparing to launch a registered apprenticeship program in 2015.

Urban Health Plan
Urban Health Plan has committed to expanding its worker services by investing in a learning management system with an e-learning platform; integrating career development into its onboarding program; expanding outreach regarding tuition assistance to frontline staff; partnering with community colleges, technical schools, and public schools for health career and technical education focused on internships, apprenticeships, job development, and placement programs; and expanding its training programs overall. Urban Health Plan invests in its frontline workers through a wide variety of training and support services. These services include tuition assistance, paid on-site training, in-house career and education coaching, financial and legal advising, health and wellness, fitness classes, internship programs, connections to career and technical schools, and many others. Urban Health Plan has a long history of promoting from within: over 150 associates currently in managerial or high-skill positions started in entry-level or low-skill jobs. In 2014, Urban Health Plan’s retention rate was 86.27%, and its turnover rate was 11.21% in comparison with a national turnover rate of 20.4% among health care employees.