Minnesota recruits teens to health care jobs amid workforce crisis

[anvplayer video=”5083549″ station=”998122″]

Minnesota is working to recruit young people into health care jobs as the state continues to battle a workforce crisis.

Teenagers will be able to fill certain entry-level roles, according to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

"I think what we’re seeing because of the workforce need, we need to expand the pool. It’s not deep enough at this point to really meet the need," said Traci Krause, dean of the School of Nursing, Health Sciences and Wellness at Minneapolis College.

Gov. Tim Walz declared January "Health Care Month" in an effort to encourage young people to explore health care careers. Minnesota Education Commissioner Heather Mueller said the state will be working with high schools to develop new programs and expand existing ones.

"There are funds available for 10 new high schools to be able to start free training programs," Mueller said. "In some of our schools, we are able to provide training for certified nursing assistants, where they get the coursework during the day and then are able to receive their certification."

Krause added, "Attracting nursing assistants is the way of the future to support health care and the need that we have."

There are 15,000 CNA openings throughout Minnesota right now, according to DEED, making it the sixth most in-demand job in the state.

CNAs can be employed at facilities such as nursing homes, hospitals and rehabilitation centers.

Mueller said high school students will be able to participate in "earn while you learn" programs, where they can make money while completing their training.

Teenagers as young as 15 can work, for example, as a dietary aide at a nursing home, helping to prepare and serve meals.

"It’s a great job and tends to pay higher than most jobs for that age range," Krause said.

A spokesperson for DEED told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that teens can expect to make $15-$17 per hour in some of the open entry-level health care roles.

"It’s really a way to work that passion and make some money, so it’s a win-win," Krause said.

Up to 20 students from Roosevelt High School in Minneapolis will train to become certified nursing assistants at Minneapolis College this spring.

"There’s a finite number of individuals to pull for the workforce, so if you can attract younger individuals, that certainly helps again to alleviate the need and the stress," Krause said.

CNA courses will be available through certain high schools. Anyone age 16 and up can also apply as an individual. The State of Minnesota will cover the cost of tuition, books, uniforms and the certification exam.

On average, CNA training runs a total of 75 hours, with the courses lasting two to three weeks. Click here for more details.

DEED and its partners in CareerForce are also hosting health care hiring events around the state in honor of Health Care Month.