Profile: Susie Puskar, Partner4Work

Susie

Susie Puskar
Director of Youth Innovation, Partner4Work

A NEW PATHWAY TO SOLID JOBS

At Partner4Work, our goal is to connect job seekers to jobs and vice versa. By bridging the gap between people looking for work and employers in need of talent, we help businesses grow and thrive. We have been working with the PLSG for about a year on Health IT Pittsburgh because Health IT job creation and company growth go hand in hand. Our micro-credential skills training focuses on specialized segments in one of three pathways: Applied health care (home health aide or patient care tech), computer help desk certification, and Health IT. The Health IT pathway features five modules and is implemented in association with the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC). The program includes areas like understanding medical terminology and mastering Excel database software. We have a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry to develop micro-credentials – stackable, modular, competency-based credentials applicable in high-demand occupations that can lead participants to more opportunities.

YOU CAN GET THERE – AND FAST

All classes in this program build on each other, but you don’t have to take them all. It’s like a highway – you can stay on and go to the next destination, or exit and start working at any level you think is right for you, and you can get back on the highway at any point to continue your education and training. We’ve had 100 participants so far in the three pathways, surpassing our original goal of 60. Some of the course instructors come from CCAC, and others directly from the workforce, with first hand working knowledge in the topics they teach.

WHY HEALTH IT TRAINING MAKES SENSE NOW

Opportunity occupations, like many of those in Health IT, pay more than $15 an hour, but don’t require a bachelor’s degree. We get businesses involved upfront, asking them “Where are the positions you’re having trouble hiring?” That’s how we identified Health IT and the other two areas for micro-credentials. In the Health IT field, our micro-credentialed training can be enough to up-skill students sufficiently for jobs that are available now.

CONNECTING JOBS AND JOB SEEKERS RIGHT WHERE THEY ARE

When developing our program, we asked ourselves how we could create flexible opportunities to accommodate modern life situations. The business community’s buy-in – its commitment to hire graduates – is critical to the longevity of this program. Businesses need to know that these people will show up on time and perform their work diligently and properly. We are providing a pre-screening process for businesses looking to hire. We have had quite a varied group come through so far: single parents, current professionals who want to refresh their skill set, and people who have been in the workforce for some time who want to earn new credentials. The modular aspect of the program makes it easily tailored to many different people and situations.

CAPITALIZING ON A NEW WORLD OF OPPORTUNITY

Health IT might sound a bit futuristic, but the reality is that health care and technology today are interlinked. Positions that had been patient facing now have broader responsibilities, including use of technology. And the advent of big-data-driven decision-making means getting an understanding of this dynamic gives you an edge in finding a job in Health IT. The Health IT Pittsburgh initiative is a perfect fit for what we’re doing. We are delighted to be a partner.

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