Louisville, Ky., – Louisville companies Norton Healthcare and Universal Woods took part in a White House summit today focusing on the critical need to “upskill” America’s workforce. The UpSkill America Summit is bringing together a diverse group of 150 employers, labor unions, nonprofits and tech innovators who are tackling the critical need to equip workers with the skills and education they need to get ahead in the job world.
Across the U.S., there are 24 million frontline workers, including food service workers, daycare providers, health care workers and construction laborers. Many could be trained to fill more skilled, available jobs but lack a clear path to get to those jobs. Meanwhile, many employers are struggling to fill the jobs they are creating.
“Providing our citizens of all ages with the lifelong learning and skills they need to adapt to a changing workforce and qualify for high-paying jobs is a top priority for us,” Mayor Greg Fischer said. “It’s exciting that companies representing two of our key economic sectors, healthcare and manufacturing, will be spotlighted for the progressive efforts they’re making.”
Tony Bohn, system vice president and chief Human Resources officer for Norton Healthcare, and Paul Wilson, team member of Engineering and Operations for Universal Woods, attended the White House summit. The two companies were recognized as leaders in this national movement to provide more workers with the stepping stones to advance. You can read more about the event on the White House blog
At the summit, Bohn was to share how Norton Healthcare, one of Kentucky’s largest healthcare systems, fosters a culture of continual, life-long learning for its employees. Among its programs to upskill its employees are:
- financial assistance to its frontline workers for education; support to stack degrees and credentials;
- employment opportunities for young adults through the Louisville Mayor’s SummerWorks program and offering a career pipeline for future healthcare workers;
- leadership as a partner in the Health Careers Collaborative of Greater Louisville to develop the first sector-focused health career center in the region to recruit and engage workers for a variety of healthcare career pathways.
“Encouraging academic progression is more than an initiative, it is a defining characteristic of Norton Healthcare. We could not accomplish our mission to provide quality healthcare without a culture of continual learning and academic progression,” Bohn said. “Norton Healthcare has helped thousands of employees transition from front-line jobs to healthcare careers that are in demand. That investment in our employees is also an investment in our community. An educated workforce is key to the continuation of quality care well into our future.”
Wilson said that Universal Woods, a regional manufacturer with customers around the world, makes a significant commitment to employee education and training and provides its workforce with extraordinary opportunities for career enhancement in an innovative environment. The firm’s investment in frontline workers includes:
- opportunities to complete the National Career Readiness Certificate and Certified Production Technician courses offered by the Kentucky Manufacturing Career Center;
- financial assistance for pursuing and completing college degrees as part of a regional initiative, Degrees at Work; bringing college representatives to the company each semester to talk with team members interested in college studies; offering college classes and instructors onsite;
- voluntary participation among team members in classroom and cross-training that leads to different or additional responsibilities and corresponding compensation and recognition;
- internal apprentice programs that qualify employees for additional responsibilities.
“Our learning initiatives reflect and support our beliefs that ‘people are our greatest asset’ and ‘continuous learning is essential to continuous improvement’,” said Paul Neumann, president/CEO of Universal Woods Inc. “Some business managers think of funding learning as a cost. Our team thinks learning is an investment and has a great ROI for our team members, the company and our community as well.”
Norton Healthcare and Universal Woods were nominated for recognition at the White House summit by KentuckianaWorks, Greater Louisville’s Workforce Investment Board and an agency of Metro Government. KentuckianaWorks is a site for the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, one of seven national partners leading UpSkill in its mission to encourage widespread adoption of business practices that foster expanded economic opportunity for hard-working Americans.
“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,” said Fred Dedrick, executive director of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions. “The National Fund is committed to working hands-on with employers to help American workers seize the opportunity for better-paying jobs.”