The Education Design Lab brings new vision to workforce development in an era where we must take bold steps to accelerate wage growth and close skills gaps in our health care system. Stackable credentials will enable us to align our community college courses with the skills and competencies that aspiring healthcare professionals need, while meeting the needs of employers—and community health— alike.
As part of the Virginia Community College System’s G3 (Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back) planning grant, Virginia Western Community College (VWCC) was selected to participate in a state-wide collaborative effort to transform workforce programs. This planning grant is backed by a Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) grant from the U.S. Department of Labor and is focused on industry sectors that offer high demand, well-paying jobs.
The jobs data in Virginia Western Community College’s service area is clear: The current need (and potential for job growth) is in healthcare, as the Roanoke region is the medical center of western Virginia. The local numbers mirror national trends and in some cases surpass national averages. The region expects to see an 18% growth in healthcare jobs through 2028.
Recognizing that the jobs potential in the healthcare sector can include non-clinical pathways—including a growing number of IT jobs, for example—is critical to the design of the G3 pathways strategy. Through the G3 Healthcare Pathways Design Challenge, VWCC will work with the Lab to develop at least one stackable pathway in the area of healthcare in just nine months.
In June 2019, the VWCC design team and stakeholders took part in a gallery walk that immersed the participants in the student experience. Those in attendance identified key themes that are woven throughout their student’s academic journey in the healthcare pathways at VWCC. These themes were then carried over into a full day of ideation and design as the core team jumped into creating concepts and prototypes that are meeting the needs of the students while also addressing the deliverables set forward by the VCCS for the G3 Grant.