Helping Healthcare Workers Build New Career Skills

1199 SEIU Director Viviana Abreu-Hernandez, Wadhwani Foundation CEO Dr. Ajay Kela, and BMCC President Antonio Perez.

1199 SEIU Director Viviana Abreu-Hernandez, Wadhwani Foundation CEO Dr. Ajay Kela, and BMCC President Antonio Perez.
December 18, 2013

BMCC will partner with the Wadhwani Foundation and 1199SEIU/United Healthcare Workers East in the launch of Race to a Job, an innovative job training initiative for healthcare workers in New York City.

Enrolled in the Medical Assistant Specialist program at BMCC’s Center for Continuing Education and Workforce Development, these workers will upgrade their skills and gain “stackable” credentials—competencies, skills and certifications they can accumulate over time to advance their careers.

Established in 2003, the Wadhwani Foundation provides technical support and training for individuals seeking to enter high-demand job markets—especially those that do not require four-year college degrees. With more than 360,000 members, 1199SEIU/United Healthcare Workers East is the largest local union in the world.

Sealing the partnership

The partnership agreement was signed on December 17 at a ceremony in Fiterman Hall. Among those taking part were Wadhwani Foundation CEO Dr. Ajay Kela; BMCC President Antonio Pérez and 1199 SEIU Director Viviana Abreu-Hernandez standing in for 1199 Director Sandi Vito.

“Upgrading the skills of people who are already engaged in their field of choice enables them to earn industry-recognized credentials, and seek higher-level positions with their current employer,” says BMCC Dean of Continuing Education and Workforce Development, Sunil Gupta.

“It also makes it possible for them to increase their family income enough to pursue the goal of earning a longer-term, higher education degree.”

The Race to a Job training will be provided online, with some live classroom sessions, and use state-of-the-art, interactive, multimedia, and gaming technologies.

“This instructional method supports the hectic schedules of working participants, and will serve as a model for other educational programs around the U.S.,” says Dr. Kela. 

Participants will have ready online access to their instructors, as well as the opportunity to interact with each other through digital-support networks. Courses will also be offered through a cloud-based delivery system that supports both online and offline learning.

Getting started

The first step in the Race to a Job pilot project will be to digitize the Medical Assistant Specialist curriculum already in use at BMCC, and jointly developed by BMCC, Lehman College, New York City Small Business Services, Community Health Care Association of New York State, and the New York Alliance for Careers in Healthcare.

Technology vendors will be selected through a rigorous RFP process to build the new digital content.  

“What Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have done for access to academic education is what the Race to a Job initiative seeks to do for the delivery of workforce education,” says Dr. Kela.

Eventually, the Wadhwani Foundation hopes to expand Race to a Job to additional community colleges and adult education partners throughout the U.S.

“Race to a Job is not about replacing instructors with technology but about leveraging technology and opportunity networks to enhance the quality of learning,” Dr. Kela adds. 

“By making full use of the technology tools available to us and examining new ways to deliver workforce preparation, we can enhance the learning experience for individuals and empower them to move ahead in their careers.”

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