We have back-to-school on the brain. Our focus hasn’t been on where to get school supply deals or classroom prep, though. As we conduct regional talent assessments, we are admiring the efforts of educational institutions stepping up to help address workforce challenges.

The competition for high-quality, skilled workers is at a fever pitch. Developing strategies that attract people to your community is only one part of a well-rounded economic development strategic plan. Retaining and developing the talent already in your own backyard is critical. At Ady Advantage, we understand the value of a holistic approach. This is why the work of Madison College caught out attention.

The team at Madison College in Wisconsin understands that partnering with regional employers not only serves their students but ensures a thriving local economy. The College interviews employers, conducts extensive research, and adjusts its curriculum accordingly. In listening to healthcare employers, the College heard the COVID-19 pandemic sped up the nursing shortage. The educators decided to focus on the certified nursing assistant (CNA) position. This position is a key entry point and allows for staffing up to other higher-level nursing positions.

“For us, it was a look at our end goal. What market are you tapping into? What are your employment projections? Because your resources are finite. You want to make those strategic decisions to make sure you’re building something that you can sustain over a long period of time,” Dr. Lisa Marie Greenwood, Ed.D RN MSN APRN-BC, CWON, CNS, Associate Dean-Nursing, Madison College Nursing Program.

Madison College brought two unique innovations to this talent strategy:

  • Digital Badges for flexibility. The College answered the challenges of potential students and health systems alike introducing the Digital Badge Program to the CNA curriculum. The educators knows that many potential students of this program attend school while also working jobs or caring for children. The Digital Badge Program allows students to complete the course work required to take the state test at their pace and schedule.
  • Grants for affordability. After addressing the scheduling barrier, MATC recruited community partners and employers in healthcare as partners to address another impediment—cost. Through grants identified with these partners, the program has covered about 60% of the cost of the program for students.

By developing creative ways to quickly address the barriers they identified among prospective students, the College has enrolled over 55 students each semester since the program inception, and more healthcare institutions have come on board to provide training support and help recruit potential students. With this success, the College is now looking to expand the Digital Badge Program to other healthcare programs.

Developing a strategic program based in research and data not only gains the admiration of data nerds like the team here at Ady Advantage, their research also improves their grant applications to sustain the program.

If you would like to learn more about Talent Solutions like this and many more, reach out! Ady Advantage can help your region with talent assessments, recruitment strategies, and talent campaign audits.