Finding dedicated and talented workers is a priority across the country, and Argentum recently launched Senior Living Works to be a national solution for the industry. But the real action takes place at the local level. That’s where recruiters interview candidates, where students decide on careers of interest, and where center staff meet with schools about their course offerings.
This hit home when Brent Weil, Argentum’s vice president for workforce development, met this month with senior living owners and operators at Lambeth House, a senior living community in New Orleans. Like many places, Louisiana has historically low unemployment. It also has a large concentration of hospitality and restaurant businesses that are strong competitors for the senior living workforce. That makes it especially hard to find and keep caregivers, chefs, dining staff members, and those in other key positions.
Brent led a discussion of the challenges as well as innovative solutions that can help recruit, onboard, and grow the workforce. Lambeth House, for example, has started a mentorship program, matching new employees with a mentor. Other communities have programs that include tuition reimbursement, flexible scheduling, and high school partnerships to inform students about careers.
Following the meeting, Brent visited the New Orleans Job Corps Center, a campus that is part of a federal program for youth ages 16-24. There, students earn their high school diploma and learn a trade to prepare them for careers. The center in New Orleans has programs for CNAs, medical assistants, and culinary professionals. At the beginning of Brent’s visit, students at the Job Corps Center did not have an accurate idea of senior living and what jobs would be like in the industry. But several of the students were eager to learn more, especially after hearing about the family atmosphere and other benefits that come from working with residents.
A larger partnership with Job Corps is just getting underway, with discussions centered around opportunities for students to take advantage of six-week internships in senior living communities. There’s a good chance that someone who starts his or her career in senior living will stay and choose it as a career.
Special thanks to Argentum state partner, the Louisiana Assisted Living Association, and Lambeth House for helping to coordinate these opportunities. At Argentum, we look forward to working with other state partners on workforce solutions.