SHOWING THE WAY: Getting Results on Multiple Metrics That Matter
Fortunately, HRTPs already exist across California in industries that collectively comprise a significant portion of the state’s economy. They have shown that the high road approach is not just possible, but that it can provide significant and meaningful results. The California Workforce Development Board (CWDB) invested in an initiative beginning in 2017. Its Equity, Climate and Jobs program funded eight different HRTPs operating in seven diverse industries across the state, including both the public and private sectors: Hospitality, Health Care, Building Services, Construction, Transit, Freight & Goods Movement, and Water & Utilities. More detail on the HRTPs and the initiative itself at: https://cwdb.ca.gov/initiatives/high-road-training-partnerships/.
While each HRTP is different, they hold many important aspects in common:
- All include high road employers, choosing to compete on innovation and skill rather than on low wages and externalized environmental costs, and all include a formal role for worker voice.
- All face major challenges in their industries that affect their competitiveness, including the risk of losing experienced workers due to their aging workforces, rapid advancements in technology, and the urgent need to respond to drastic climate changes and now the impact of COVID-19 as well.
- All have chosen to plan and prepare in order to get ahead of these changes and challenges, and to work collaboratively for the strongest possible positioning not only for current but also future needs.
- All have made a powerful impact on increasing sustainable and low-carbon practices, building resilient communities, advancing equity for those who have been disadvantaged, and ensuring quality jobs.
Each of these HRTPs has undertaken significant work—some over the course of decades and some more recently—to solve industry challenges. Their efforts result in measurable impacts in multiple areas—most importantly, moving workers into higher paying jobs, advancing equity, and reducing energy use. For example:
Workers Advance Into Higher Paying Jobs
In the private sector health care industry, the SEIU-UHW Education Fund, a partnership between the largest health care union in the state and 16 different employers covering over 100,000 workers, prepares learners for the jobs and skills needed by those employers. While the dominant source of training for allied health workers in the state is through for-profit providers that have been found to leave workers in debt and unable to achieve sufficient career advancement to pay off those debts, the Education Fund provides a more effective high road approach that delivers for participants in its HRTP programs who are more than 80 percent women and more than 70 percent people of color:
- Graduation rate: 93 percent completion rate for those in degree programs.
- Career advancement: 40 percent higher internal job mobility for Education Fund participants.
- Pay Increases: 36 percent average wage increase for those who completed and moved into higher level jobs.
- Lower hiring costs for employers: 30+ percent reduction in turnover rates.
Improved Equity and Environmental Resilience
Building Skills Partnership (BSP), a joint effort between SEIU–USWW and major commercial buildings and janitorial companies, specializes in designing workforce development approaches for immigrant workers. Most of the workers BSP serves are from Latin America (95 percent), 70 percent are women, less than 30 percent are formally educated beyond the sixth grade, and many are monolingual Spanish speakers. BSP created a Green Janitor Education Training Program (GJEP) in which janitors gain a sense of responsibility for how sustainability practices help mitigate climate change, while employers gain a trained workforce that helps meet local and state climate standards. GJEP is now an industry best practice and has been incorporated into initiatives to meet LEED sustainability standards for buildings. Key results include:
- From 2013 to 2016, 76 percent of GJEP buildings saw a decrease in energy and water usage.
- GJEP buildings used 5.6 percent less energy on average in 2016 than non-GJEP buildings.
- In addition, by sharing green practices with their families, friends, and neighbors, GJEP janitors are magnifying the program’s impact by creating healthier and more resilient communities.
Improved Equity, Career Advancement, and Operational Improvements
In public sector transportation, the South Bay Valley Transportation Authority and the ATU union formed the Joint Workforce Investment (JWI) as a partnership that is now part of the larger California Transit Works! network of transit HRTPs across the state. JWI launched a formal peer mentoring program in which veteran coach operators help novice drivers transition from training to driving a route; it also has created Coach Operator and Service Mechanic apprenticeships.
JWI’s HRTP has institutionalized pathways into family-supporting careers for non-traditional workers. Women, immigrants, and workers of color have all found success through the apprenticeship programs. The apprenticeship cohorts have near-perfect completion rates. In addition, from 2009 – 2016:
- Employee absenteeism fell from 4.3 percent to 1.6 percent.
- Rider complaints about service fell from 5.8 per bus operator to zero.
In the hospitality industry, the Hospitality Training Academy (HTA), an HRTP with Unite Here Local 11 and major hotel and airport concessionaires in Southern California, has developed its own program for English language learners that contextualizes learning so that the language skills acquired are most relevant for specific jobs. This has provided learners who are predominantly immigrants from all over the world not only with the language skills but also the particular technical skills needed to obtain and retain employment on a career path in the hospitality industry.
- Graduates of this training were referred to high road hospitality employers for entry-level positions, which serve as on-ramps for well-paid, family-sus-taining jobs.
- Among the first cohort, 100 percent of participants received job offers.
Solving Public Health Needs Through Cultural Affinity
The Worker Education and Resource Center (WERC) is a leader in preparing frontline healthcare workers who share cultural affinity with LA’s patient populations. Working with SEIU Local 721 and Los Angeles County, the HRTP covers 22,000 workers in four public hospitals and seven health centers and community clinics. Based on the needs identified through the partnership, WERC developed the Community Health Worker Program and has recruited and trained over 230 community health workers to deliver services in their own neighborhoods. WERC’s Community Health Worker Program serves as a model for maximizing the documented efficiencies produced by having trusted, culturally similar health workers embedded within local communities. WERC also created the Care Navigator Apprentices program. Most of the apprentices were low income or unemployed when they entered the program. Approximately 50 percent of the apprentices had a college degree but lived in underserved communities without access to career positions. The cohort was 70 percent Latinx and 30 percent African American, and all were bilingual Spanish speakers. By providing apprentices with clinic experience, the Care Navigator Apprenticeship serves as an entry point for healthcare positions with the County of Los Angeles and creates a critical career opportunity for workers from low-income communities. It improves the marketability of apprentices for county civil service jobs and with other community health providers.
- After apprentices completed their first six months on the job, clinics were already seeing positive changes: more patients were returning for needed follow-up appointments than prior to the program.