vgiThe State of Texas continues to face a shortage of nursing professionals. According to the Texas Center for Nursing Workforce Studies, this shortage will continue until 2032, with a deficit of 59,970 Registered Nurses (RNs) and 12,572 Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs). In the Rio Grande Valley, there is an unmet demand of 9.8% in the nurse workforce, with a deficit of 3,242 RNs. In response, the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) has dedicated $15 million to expand apprenticeships in healthcare to address this critical shortage of healthcare professionals.
Valley Grande Institute for Academic Studies (VGI), a designated (501c3) non-profit institution, has been a champion for developing and maintaining a robust regional healthcare talent pipeline to meet the community’s needs since 1992. As such, VGI worked diligently to lead and facilitate apprenticeship expansion efforts by convening industry, educational and economic development stakeholders. The focus was on expanding entry-level and middle-skilled healthcare apprenticeship opportunities. This flexible career pathways approach to workforce development is crucial to assist the less educated workforce to advance to better-skilled paying jobs by earning both a credential through the Department of Labor and a postsecondary certification thru VGI.
In October of 2022, VGI successfully received Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP) approval from the Department of Labor in the areas of Patient Care Technician and Community Health Worker. This accomplishment marked the region’s first healthcare-registered apprenticeship designation in the Rio Grande Valley.
Subsequently, in March 2023, Mission Regional Medical Center and Valley Baptist Hospital Harlingen, in partnership with VGI, received two Texas Workforce Commission Healthcare Apprenticeship Expansion Grants for $118,908 and $120,000. This grant funding, once again the first for the region, will help train approximately 40 desperately needed Patient Care Technicians. VGI will initiate registered apprenticeship training in early September 2023, and upon completion, registered apprentices will earn an average of $18.00 per hour. Additionally, apprentices will receive nationally recognized Department of Labor Registered Apprentice credentials and VGI certificates.
The Valley Grande Institute Regional Healthcare Apprenticeship Expansion Initiative is a significant milestone for addressing regional healthcare needs, workforce development, education, decreasing poverty, and adding to robust economic development in our Rio Grande Valley.