Why should a business invest in growing the skills of its workforce? For Patient’s Premier Choice (PPC), a pediatric home health care agency serving patients in Austin metro area, the reason is to advance their employees’ careers and provide a greater quality of care to patients.
Linh Tu is the owner and CEO of PPC. She founded PPC in 2015 and today employs 20 to 25 full-time and part-time employees in administration and nursing.
“We are in the business of private duty nursing, focusing on pediatrics as a specialty,” Linh said. “We are in the process of diversifying our services into more telehealth and potentially into a medical daycare.”
Linh connected with Workforce Solutions when she met the CEO, Tamara Atkinson, at a community event during the first year of opening her business. Later, through her work with the Greater Austin Asian Chamber of Commerce as a member and now as a board member, Linh met Amber Warne, Director of Upskilling and Advancement for Workforce Solutions.
Applying for the Incumbent Worker Training program
Through this connection, Linh learned about the Incumbent Worker Training (IWT) program and how it could benefit PPC. IWT provides funding assistance to qualifying employers to provide skills training to current full-time, permanent employees. Through federal funds and a match from the employer, a worker can receive training at no cost to them.
“I shared that I was looking to upskill my current talent. I feel that if I invest in my people and my community, that is in turn an investment in myself,” said Linh.
“I wanted to financially help my Licensed Vocational Nurses to upskill into Registered Nurses. That skill set will then improve their quality of life—it comes with a pay bump. The extra training helps to improve the care they provide to their patients,” Linh said.
“Together, we got a feel of what I needed, what our staff needed, to continue our good work and be successful,” she said.
Linh worked with Workforce Solutions and Austin Community College (ACC) to arrange the two-year training, which results in a certification.
“We have one employee going through the program. Once she graduates, I plan to submit another candidate by the end of this year,” said Linh.
“The employees go back to school, earn their certification, and nothing out of pocket. Everything is paid for between PPC and Workforce Solutions,” said Linh.
Shannon Ung, operations supervisor for PPC, was the employee Linh selected for IWT.
“My training experience has been wonderful thus far. If it weren’t for Workforce Solutions, I wouldn’t be able to train full time,” Shannon said. “This has enabled me to pursue school without any financial stress.”
A win-win for employer and employee
For Linh, offering scholarships through IWT to become RNs benefits her company because it allows employees to stay flexible with their work hours: “If I put them through this training and I know they need more time, I can work their schedule around their training to ensure they are never placed in a financial burden as they finish the training. We want to ensure they are successful and complete it,” said Linh.
“IWT is a win-win for employer and employee. If you remove the financial burden from the table, there is no reason not to offer it,” said Linh.
“The majority of my staff are single parents. I understand the hardship there. I want to give them more money for their job. The best way for me to do that is if they have a higher degree,” Linh said.
Shannon said, “The whole team at Workforce Solutions has been extremely supportive in this journey and working with us every step of the way. They understand that PPC is a small and growing business and we don’t have as many resources as other companies. They have been adaptive to our needs and we are so grateful!”
How Incumbent Worker Training helps companies become more competitive and adapt to changes
For Linh, offering scholarships via IWT is an added benefit to joining the company.
“It’s a reason why you come to work for PPC, we treat you like family and invest in your future. That has helped us catch the attention of the younger generation of nurses who want to continue further in their professional careers,” Linh said. “In addition, we’re improving quality of life with the ability to make a living wage even as a single parent in Austin.”
What if the program was not available? PPC would be able to cover only a portion of the training costs for staff. With that additional financial burden, it would be likely that fewer people would apply or complete the training.
“The program removes the financial barrier to entry to upskill and improve your life,” Linh said.
A tool to show appreciation and increase retention
Growing the skill sets of employees is a valuable investment for businesses to ensure they have the qualified talent they need. IWT helps overcome challenges to start upskilling.
“I would describe it as a tool to show appreciation to your staff, to reduce the financial burden of upskilling and training your staff, and also to increase retention. And that is so important because it cost a lot of money to hire and train your employees and you want to invest in this asset,” said Linh.
“Your staff are an asset and through Incumbent Worker Training this is how you appreciate, value and recognize them.”
Upgrade your workforce’s skills with Workforce Solutions Capital Area
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