WASHINGTON, DC (STL.News) The U.S. Department of Labor announced Tuesday the availability of up to $40 million in funding in the Rural Healthcare Grant Program to address rural healthcare workforce shortages in communities across the country.
Prior to the coronavirus crisis, the U.S. had approximately 6.8 million job openings, many of which required skilled labor in the healthcare industry. Research suggests that the U.S. not only has an ongoing shortage of healthcare workers, but it also has a shortage of skilled workers for the jobs that are available.
The Department’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA), which administers the program, seeks to address this shortage through the release of funding to invest in successful, employer-driven, training models and community partnerships to establish sustainable programs to address rural healthcare shortages. Through the investment in these rural communities, ETA aims to help individuals gain the skills necessary to fill these vacancies and allow employers to find skilled workers more readily.
“Our goal is to get ahead of the trend of a shortage of skilled healthcare workers in rural communities across the nation.” said Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training John Pallasch. “These funds will advance the future of the rural healthcare workforce by responding to employers’ needs through training models and community partnerships that the U.S. Department of Labor hopes to expand and replicate in similar communities across the country.”
Rural Healthcare Grants will be awarded to partnerships of public and private sector entities. Eligible lead applicants include employers in the healthcare sector; nonprofit healthcare organizations affiliated with hospitals and other medical facilities; healthcare industry and/or occupation associations; organizations designated as “Primary Care Associations” by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA); Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) State or Local Workforce Development Boards and federally recognized Indian/Native American Tribal Governments; and Native American Program entities eligible for funding under Section 166 of WIOA (29 U.S.C. 3221).
These public-private partnerships will leverage resources across federal and state funding streams as well as from the private sector. They will work together toward a coordinated approach to preparing a skilled healthcare workforce for rural areas. The Department encourages applicants to generate at least 15 percent of the total amount of requested funds as leveraged funds to support the grant project. The Department also encourages applicants to incorporate new and emergent technologies – such as interactive simulations, personalized and virtual instruction, educational gaming or digital tutors – into the educational component of their training design.
The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.