Oakland County Workforce Development Survey Identifies Challenges and Job Opportunities with Leading Health Systems

An aging workforce and a lack of experienced job applicants are two significant employment challenges area health systems face in the coming years, according to a regional survey of six leading health systems commissioned by Oakland County.

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson announced via a press release the release of the survey – the Skills Needs Assessment Project – to more than 400 health care and life science professionals, educators, physicians and government officials attending INNO-VENTION 2014 – a Medical Main Street Conference. The event was held at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi.

“We are focusing on the health system needs because they are the fastest growing and the largest of our employment sectors in Oakland County,” Patterson said. “This professional review of the health systems’ future needs will be an indispensable aid to the health community as it adjusts to an aging workforce.”

The Skills Needs Assessment Project (SNAP), a year-long survey of health systems in southeast Michigan, presents important information about job prospects in the health care industry for employers, educators and students. SNAP began in 2009 with a study of skills and knowledge required for jobs in the Emerging Sectors®, which identifies the top growth sectors in the region such as medical, communications, information technology and advanced materials. A second study was completed in 2013 on advanced manufacturing. The complete report is available online at www.AdvantageOakland.com.

“It’s important to not simply talk about the need but to roll up your sleeves and do the difficult work,” Deputy County Executive Matthew Gibb said. “Oakland County doesn’t just talk about it. We develop the tools to fix it.”

The 32-page report provided an in-depth look at employment within area health systems and identified challenges and potential solutions. It also identified the skills and education job seekers need to qualify for one of a host of attractive health care opportunities. The health systems who participated in the survey were Beaumont Health System, Henry Ford Health System, McLaren Health Care, Oakwood Healthcare, Saint Joseph Mercy Health System and the University of Michigan Health System.

The survey created 16 customized job profiles needed by area health systems, the median salary, the educational requirements and number of graduates expected for that job, tasks the job requires and the number of anticipated job openings from now until 2019. Information gathered included company demographics, greatest hiring challenges and suggested remedies, specific job openings that were difficult to fill and the skills and abilities needed with specific occupations.

Job profiles created include:

  • Cardiovascular Technologist
  • Computer Systems Analyst
  • Critical Care Nurse
  • Nurse Practitioner
  • Pharmacist
  • Registered Nurse with specializations
  • Surgical Technologist

Among the current employment challenges health systems face in order:

  • An aging workforce nearing retirement
  • Lack of candidates with required experience
  • Financial concerns or restrictions
  • Insufficient labor pool to meet demand
  • Perception of Southeast Michigan region
  • Insufficient clinical space for learning opportunities

Proposed remedies centered on two key factors: the need for more nurses, whether through the creation of additional schools or programming; and for newly trained or educated health care workers be exposed to the workplace environment. The respondents suggested health care systems work more closely with K-12 and post K-12 guidance counselors and Michigan Works! agencies to screening potential candidates and gauge their sincere interest in the profession.

SNAP was conducted by EdEn Inc., a Rochester-based research firm. It was funded by Oakland County, the Oakland County Workforce Development Board and through the Michigan’s Workforce Development Agency and the U.S. Department of Labor.


About Sarah Hovis

Freelance wordsmith, arts appreciator, grammar geek, sports spectator, stationery snob, and world traveler, Sarah charts her own course as the owner of saliho creative. She uses her creative mind and engaging dialogue to fearlessly bring the written word to life in print and online… all while keeping a watchful eye out for the next literary adventure. You can reach her at sarah@rochestermedia.com.

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