Amid Worker Shortage, Teens Sought for Certified Nursing Assistant Jobs
Amid Minnesota’s ongoing worker shortage, there’s a pilot program at Robbinsdale Copper High School that’s training teenagers to work as a certified nursing assistant.
“You do want the people that you love and that you’re closest to, you want to make sure that they’re getting the best care possible,” says Rachel Shannon, an administrator at Excellence Health Career Center, the organization offering the satellite program at Cooper High School.
The six-week summer pilot program gives teenagers the ability to work as a certified nursing assistant or home health aide.
“Nursing assistants are in such high demand right now,” says Shannon.
Worker Shortage Is A Challenge And An Opportunity
Amid an aging population, baby boomer retirements, and years of economic growth, Minnesota faces a tight labor market with more open jobs than people to fill them.
It’s a challenge for employers, but an opportunity for the young.
“Our young people, whether they’re coming out of high school or whether they’re coming out of some post-secondary education, they’re much more likely to be able to find that first good stepping stone into a career, much more so than ten years ago when a lot of our young people were just not able to get a good start on a career,” says Steve Hine, director of labor market information at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.
For 18-year-old Hayley Engebretsen of Crystal, going through the certified nursing assistant program allows her the opportunity to work as a CNA while she goes to college for a bachelors in nursing.
“I’m very excited to be in this program. I’m very excited to start my career from this,” says Engebretsen.
Certified Nursing Assistant Jobs On The Rise
According the the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for nursing assistants will grow 11 percent over the next 8 years. The median salary is $27,510 per year, which amounts to $13.23 an hour.
For 19-year-old Derartu Ahmed of Maple Grove, working as a CNA will help prepare her for her goal of becoming a doctor.
“Emotionally, you’ve went through most things that doctors will not see, so you have huge sympathy for your nurses and for your CNA, you will look at it very differently, so I think that is so important,” says Ahmed.
After a combination of classroom study at Cooper High School, hands-on skills practice, and two days of clinicals, an exam is all that stands between the teenagers and jobs as a certified nursing assistant.
“We are actually developing healthcare workers that are compassionate, empathetic, and actually educated in their skill and their craft to be able to care for those that are aging,” says Kecia Hayslett, a nursing instructor with Excellence Health Career Center.
As students complete the six-week pilot program, there’s already a care facility in Minneapolis, Augustana, that’s waiting to hire them.
“Our goal is to have every last one of them employed,” says Hayslett of her students.