UCHealth launches education program to make career advancement in health care more accessible

Feb. 3, 2022
Photo: Getty Images.

In a historically competitive labor market in which health care workers are facing tremendous challenges and record numbers of patients, UCHealth announced today the launch of the UCHealth Ascend Career Program, a new education and upskilling program. The program is offered in partnership with Guild Education, the nation’s leading education and upskilling platform, and it will provide growth opportunities for current UCHealth employees while attracting new employees interested in pursuing a career in health care.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts health care employment will grow 16% from 2020 to 2030 — much faster than the average for all occupations — adding an estimated 2.6 million new jobs in the next 10 years. In Colorado, the shortage of health care workers is especially serious as population growth needs and retiring workers far outpace the number of nurses and other health care staff members who are graduating from training programs and entering the workforce.

“UCHealth is taking an innovative approach to improving health care labor challenges by providing exciting education benefits for both our current staff, as well as those who wants to enter the health care field,” said Elizabeth B. Concordia, president and CEO of UCHealth. “We know the cost of higher education and certification programs can be a barrier to career growth, and the Ascend Program will help extend those opportunities for all.”

Within the Ascend Program, UCHealth will fully fund a selection of clinical certifications as well as foundational learning programs such as English language and college prep. UCHealth will also fund select degree programs in social work, behavioral health and other areas. These programs target critical staffing areas, and support for employees’ growth into these roles will help address the shortage of clinical health care workers.

The Ascend Program will offer opportunity for career development to those interested in entering the health care field by reducing barriers, such as the financial means to earn a high school diploma, certifications or an advanced degree. A high school diploma or GED will no longer be required for applicants of certain roles because UCHealth will be able to fund this education once employees are hired. Eligible employees will have access to the program starting on day one of employment.

“The Ascend Program supports UCHealth’s commitment to improving lives in the communities we serve by equipping our employees with skills needed to provide the very best patient care,” said David Mafe, UCHealth chief diversity officer. “The program supports social mobility, enabling diverse candidates to access sustainable jobs and support their families. Our goal is to make health care careers available to those who would not otherwise have considered them.”

UCHealth is partnering with Guild Education to offer the program, which will include education coaches to help employees choose the programs and courses best for them.

“The past two years have underscored how vital health care workers are to our society,” said Rachel Carlson, chief executive officer and co-founder of Guild Education. “As a Colorado headquartered company, all of us at Guild are honored to partner with UCHealth to launch this program and provided health care workers the pathways, skills and resources they need to care for our shared community.”

The total investment from UCHealth in the program over the next several years is estimated to be up to $50 million.

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