“Apprenticeships are relevant for every job category out there. Period,” says Maurice Jones, CEO, OneTen, a coalition of companies committed to hiring and advancing – over the next 10 years – one million Black individuals without four-year college degrees.
“Skills-based apprenticeships are incredible vehicles for both entering [the workplace] and for upskilling and getting promoted,” says Jones.
Coalition member Cleveland Clinic collaborated with OneTen and strategic partner Grads of Life, an organization that helps companies create and implement DEI strategies. The result – a growing apprenticeship program that recruits diverse talent from the community.
“We’re really looking to bend the curve on health care labor supply,” says Kiersten Kanaley, executive director of talent acquisition operations at Cleveland Clinic. “When I think about why Cleveland Clinic believes in a skills-first culture, we know that this will reshape our talent ecosystem. It’s impactful work so that we can plan for tomorrow today.”
The organization’s efforts are presented in a case study Catalyzing Careers Through Skills-first Hiring – Insights From Cleveland Clinic.
“We are trying to make sure that this really gets out into the world so folks can say, ‘Hey, look at this. The Cleveland Clinic, one of the global brands in health care, is deploying apprenticeships as a way to attract and to upskill talent. If they’re doing this, is this relevant for us?’ That’s the opportunity that we think we have with this case study,” explains Jones.
He adds, “Historically, apprenticeships and access to them have reflected the same biases as the biases we have in society, generally. Those biases have not been kept at the border’s edge of apprenticeships.”
“It’s important to get it out in the business community, but I also think to the day-to-day people that we talk with and work with, as well. For talent acquisition workforce diversity, it’s important for [our community partners] to know about the case study,” says Melissa Burrows, Ph.D., director of talent acquisition workforce diversity, Cleveland Clinic.
Expanding Apprenticeship Programs
The case study identifies specific opportunities for Cleveland Clinic to spur change:
- Prioritize community outreach to restore trust
- Create apprenticeship programs to diversify hiring pipelines and build long-term careers
- Fully shift from degree-based hiring to skills-based hiring
- Develop skills-based career pathways to enable employees to advance based on capabilities rather than academic credentials
At a Community Career Expo held by Cleveland Clinic, attendees were asked, “Could you see yourself in this role?” versus “Are you qualified for this role?”
Says Jones, “The language that the Cleveland Clinic is using is intentional and understands that there’s a context here. The context includes folks not having access to these jobs because of race, because of educational background, or credentials. The way [Cleveland Clinic has] gone about articulating, ‘Can you see yourself in this?’ will produce more interest, more people who are willing to put themselves out there to compete than if they worded it a different way.”
Kanaley adds, “I watched a room of community members that thought their highest potential was housekeeping, environmental services. But when we told them that the skills that they would need is for somebody that has that customer service, that likes to be able to work in technology, but also have human connection, has the ability to be a lifelong learner – I watched an entire room start to see more hope and possibility in their own lives.”
Cleveland Clinic offers apprenticeships for pharmacy technicians, as well as IT and this year, plans to expand with sleep, epilepsy, and ophthalmology programs, according to Burrows.
Kanaley says Cleveland Clinic is creating new career pathways that offer opportunities for advancement to adjacent roles. “The team removed 80% of degree requirements and paved the way for a new outpatient clinical care assistant role after finding that 15 of the 17 essential skills for medical assistants did not require a degree or certificate. The team seeks to provide careers, not just jobs.”
“The commitment to the apprenticeships and to making sure that diverse talent, that Black talent will have access to these apprenticeship opportunities came from the top,” says Jones of the Cleveland Clinic. “It was unambiguous that the leadership was actually the executive sponsor of this. That makes a huge difference.”
“This requires daily education, awareness, and recognition of the program. This isn’t just something you put up on the wall and say, ‘This is your new strategy.’ This is a conversation and exploration that needs to happen at every consult that you have with a team,” notes Kanaley.
She says these pathways require support – both professionally and personally. “We believe and know based on the research that the career navigator is an essential position that any organization that’s looking to scale apprenticeships will have because that career navigator will be a resource for your apprentice.”
“Caregivers have access to choose their own pathway. We know in health care, you can move sideways, you can move up. It’s more of a lattice than it is linear.”
Burrows says, “The partnership with OneTen and being grounded in the research helps us accelerate the work that we’re doing. We may have seen it out in the community. We may understand it from afar, but it’s validated through the research. We’re metrics driven.”
She adds, “It’s game changing.”
Read the case study Catalyzing Careers Through Skills-first Hiring – Insights From Cleveland Clinic here.