Due to a shortage of key allied health workers in Colorado, Arapahoe Community College (ACC) and Centura Health, the largest health care employer in Colorado with more than 21,000 employees, co-created a robust Medical Assistant (MA) Apprenticeship program that has served more than 70 apprentices in the past two years. ACC and Centura Health transformed a traditional 18-month, classroom-based MA program into a 1-year, on-site registered apprenticeship utilizing a hybrid model of credit and noncredit online, classroom, on the job training, and clinical instruction.
Unlike stand-alone education programs, the competencies for the related instruction in this apprenticeship program align with the learning taking place on the job. Apprentices work up to 32 hours per week and transition into full-time MA roles after six months upon passing a national MA certification exam. Preceptors are also trained to mentor their apprentices and assess the on-the-job learning. Graduates of the program have yielded a 94% retention rate with Centura. Due to the grant with AACC/DOL, ACC was able to scale and enhance the quality of this program and has been able to expand it by implementing a program with Health One/HCA. Due to the success of this program, Centura recently gifted ACC $500,000, which was also matched by the Sturm Family Foundation, to invest in future work-based learning programs and scholarships for students.
Local Workforce Centers are partnering with Centura Health and ACC on recruitment and funding. This partnership is a direct result of industry, government, and education collaboration centered on the need for innovation around increasing a qualified workforce for the healthcare industry. This program represents the most robust health care apprenticeship in Colorado and has paved the way for more industry conversations in Colorado around co-creating apprenticeships in other hard to fill allied health fields. The Colorado Community College System (CCCS) was able to leverage a $10 million DOL grant last year to expand this work across the state and with the entire CCCS system and our health care industry partners. The future of work in this context represents education, government, and industry working together to build robust competency frameworks and co-creating accelerated apprenticeship pathways that leverage multiple instructional modalities that will ensure a more sustained talent pipeline for the industry.
Community Association Management focus
ACC has leveraged its industry partnerships and apprenticeship design experience and co-created what will be the first registered Community Association Management apprenticeship in the USA this fall (registration in process with U.S. DOL as new code). The Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Community Association Institute (CAI) reached out to ACC through mutual channels and wanted to create more innovative talent pipelines to their industry. HOAs, or community associations, have grown 700% in the USA since the 1970s, and almost 25% of all Americans live in a HOA-governed community. However, there aren’t traditional career paths that lead to HOA management.
Therefore, ACC and CAI (Rocky Mountain) created a 2-year apprenticeship that provides full-time work, two industry credentials vital for upward mobility, a stackable certificate in business from ACC, and eventually a DOL certificate upon completion. In two years, apprentices will be qualified to be an HOA manager and can make more than $50,000 a year with opportunities for upward mobility as they gain more experience.
Lessons learned: Scaling across regions
Many larger employers have a presence in multiple community college regions across state or multiple states. One of the key ingredients for a successful apprenticeship is the ability to expand a registered apprenticeship program throughout one employer with several sites. Centura Health, for instance, did not want to reinvent the wheel depending on each clinic site. ACC worked closely with several CCCS colleges on a way to implement a multi-region RA program which would provide a consistent medical assistant apprenticeship throughout Centura using a standard curriculum and shared resources. This is a change from the traditional approach where colleges only served those industries located within their service area. The important outcome of this registered apprenticeship program is that Centura can scale the apprenticeship within their entire organization, which spans all of Colorado and Western Kansas, using one standardized curriculum.