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Central Massachusetts Career Pipeline

Addressing Workforce Shortages, Diversity and Inclusion

The Central Mass Human Services/Behavioral Health Career Pipeline began three years ago with a feasibility study and planning process funded by the Fairlawn Foundation of Greater Worcester Community Foundation.

Since that time a group of provider agencies, colleges and other groups including MassHire, the City of Worcester Office of Youth Opportunities, Healthy Greater Worcester Coalition and many others have spent countless hours exploring creative ways to address workforce shortages, diversity and inclusion. 

One outcome of this project is the Human Services Career Support Program which provides 6 months of paid training to immigrants and refugees looking to start a career in human services. Learn more about the Human Services Career Support Program!

Provider partnersFirst cohort of the human services careers support program

  • Seven Hills Foundation

  • Venture Community Services

  • LUK, Inc.

  • Open Sky Community Services, Inc.

  • Ascentria Care Alliance

  • African Community Education (ACE)

  • The Southeast Asian Coalition (SEAC)

The Problem:

As of July of 2021, there are well over a 1,000 direct care vacancies at provider agencies in the Central Mass region.  This affects the quality of services provided and the ability of people who need these services to access them.  This crisis has been exacerbated by the pandemic and the current workforce shortages across all employers.

The root causes include historical underfunding of the human services industry by state funders, work environments and duties that are critically important, yet undervalued and challenging, competition from all sorts of employers with flexibility and funding to pay higher wages, and retention challenges caused by understaffing and by agency policies and culture.

Historically, it has been difficult to attract young people to behavioral health and human services careers because they are not exposed to the field and may not recognize the mission as compelling.   Diversity and inclusion are also critical facets of the challenges in the industry.  Many providers have significant numbers of staff who are BIPOC at the direct care staff level, but fewer at higher levels in the   organization.  Creating a welcoming, supportive and anti-racist culture is a critical goal for providers to enhance retention, improve culture and to aid in hiring.

The Approach

The Career Pipeline partners and supporters came together with the   philosophy that we cannot be successful tackling these challenges in silos.  We are aiming for systems change and creative approaches that go beyond competition and putting ourselves first.  Collective action can achieve more than any one of our agencies can on our own. 

The group is presently focused on a three- month intensive planning process to build out two of the Pipeline initiatives -the Human Services Career Support Program, and the Training Collaborative.

We have also engaged with consultant Rob Jones to lead our Advisory Group in a series of conversations and training on race equity.

Career Pipeline Initiatives:

Career Pipeline Partners and Supporters

  • LUK, Inc. 

  • Seven Hills Foundation

  • Ascentria Care Alliance

  • Venture Community Services

  • Open Sky Community Services

  • African Community Education (ACE)

  • The Southeast Asian Coalition (SEAC)

Funding for the Career Pipeline Initiative

  • Mass Hire/Commonwealth Corps ($72,000 over 18 months, $463,000 over the next year)

  • Healthcare HUB and Workforce Training Funds

  • The Fairlawn Foundation of Greater Worcester Community Foundation ($200,000)

  • Reliant Foundation ($10,000)

 

Interested in more info? Contact us at info@openskycs.org

Advisory Meetings are open to public