Kaiser Permanente, union announce $130M initiative aimed at healthcare workforce shortage

Kaiser Permanente and a major union are launching a nonprofit aimed at healthcare workforce shortages. (Sundry Photography/Shutterstock)

Kaiser Permanente is joining forces with a key service worker union to launch a nonprofit aimed at addressing the shortage of healthcare workers. 

The health system giant and Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) are launching the $130 million organization, called Futuro Health, as part of the labor agreement reached by the two parties last year. 

Futuro’s goal is to graduate 10,000 new licensed and credentialed allied health workers in California in the next four years. Estimates suggest California alone will face a demand of nearly 500,000 healthcare workers by 2024, Kaiser Permanente said. 

“Kaiser Permanente recognizes California’s healthcare industry is facing a projected workforce shortage of half a million people over the next few years,” said Greg Adams, the system’s CEO, in a statement. “By investing in health education, skills training and retraining programs with Futuro Health, Kaiser Permanente, in collaboration with SEIU-UHW, is leading efforts to reverse this shortage trend.” 

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Futuro Health is designed around an education-to-work model that includes career coaching, education financing and targeted pathways to help workers reach their licensure or credential. The nonprofit is partnering with Utah-based Western Governors University on an education pathway for workers becoming medical coders, care coordinators or medical assistants.

Further partnerships are in the works, Kaiser Permanente said. SEIU-UHW members will assist with recruiting and coaching students—the union’s 100,000 members largely work in hospitals. 

Van Ton-Quinlivan, the former executive vice chancellor of workforce and digital futures at California Community Colleges—the nation’s largest higher education system—and a nationally recognized thought leader on workforce development, will serve as the company’s CEO. Though Futuro’s work is focused on California for now, the nonprofit has its eye on expansion to other states, according to the announcement. 

“The nation will definitely be watching this novel approach for how to systemically build an in-demand workforce through partners that pull together resources at scale that students need to hone and increase to keep pace with their industry,” said Andy Van Kleunen, CEO of the National Skills Association.