New Orleans Works: Equipping and Matching Job Seekers with the Health Care Jobs in Demand

When you think of New Orleans’s economy, you might think of tourism, oil and gas, logistics. But like many places in the United States, there is a large and growing healthcare industry that is in desperate need of trained employees. The Greater New Orleans Foundation sees the growth of healthcare as an important opportunity for low-income families and workers in the city to earn more and get ahead.

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That’s why the Foundation forged a regional collaborative that brings together funders, public officials and employers to create career pathways for low income families. The collaborative, New Orleans Works (NOW), helps prepare low-income job seekers and incumbent workers for career pathways that address critical workforce needs of high growth industries – improving worker retention, job quality, and patient satisfaction along the way.

While engaging in workforce development may seem like new territory for community foundations, workforce initiatives are actually becoming increasingly common among place-based funders, as illustrated by the number of innovative regional collaboratives, including NOW, receiving investments from the National Fund for Workforce Solutions.

As workforce programs go, NOW’s record has been remarkable. In NOW’s inaugural effort, the collaborative provided training and services to 500 job seekers and incumbent workers in the healthcare industry. Last year, the program graduated 70 trainees who received guaranteed placement in healthcare jobs. Every major healthcare institution in the city is participating, including the local VA hospital, Daughters of Charity Health Center, and Children’s Hospital of New Orleans. And the institutions, partners and employees seem happy with the results: almost a year later, every graduate from the program has remained successfully in their job.