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CNA apprenticeships offer career pathways for nursing home workers

Apprentices get paid as nursing aides while they pursue training to become certified nursing assistants.

The Center for Caregiver Advancement, in partnership with EmpRes and SEIU Local 2015, has launched the Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Apprenticeship Program, which is meant to provide career pathways for nursing home workers and address a critical staffing shortage at skilled nursing facilities. The program is sponsored by Healthcare Career Advancement Program (H-CAP), a national labor-management organization, and is registered with the U.S. Department of Labor.

Photo of nursing assistants at a graduation ceremony
Students of the Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA) training program celebrate during their graduation ceremony.

The apprenticeship is offered through CCA’s nursing home program (the Education Fund) and provides workers the opportunity to get paid as nursing aides while they pursue training to become CNAs. The training is provided at no cost to the worker, and all program-related fees and materials are covered by the program as well. For those who need childcare or transportation, they will receive a stipend to help offset those expenses.

“This program is an investment in the nursing home workforce as a whole, and in the individual lives that provide essential care for vulnerable residents. Apprentices will earn as they learn, and they can look forward to a wage increase once they receive their CNA certification. This will open up opportunities for economic and social mobility for them,” said Arnulfo De La Cruz, Executive Vice President, SEIU Local 2015.

Currently, the program is available to workers at EmpRes facilities in Salinas and Vallejo, with a few slots open to IHSS caregivers in the area.

“We believe it is a unique opportunity to provide a career pathway for individuals interested in entering into the Certified Nursing Assistant occupation,” said Cindy Cour, Vice President of Human Resources at EmpRes and a member of the CCA board of trustees governing the Education Fund. “Not only does the program provide on-the-job learning and related instruction for the apprentice to master the competencies and become certified, it provides additional support through assigned mentors to ensure success throughout the program and beyond,” said Cour.

A recent study of the nursing home workforce shows that the turnover rate for CNAs can be as high as 129%. One of the goals of CCA’s training programs, especially the CNA certification and apprenticeship programs, is to help skilled nursing facilities address the industry’s staffing shortage and high turnover rate.

“We believe partnerships such as these will improve employee retention and satisfaction, which in turn improves residents’ quality of care. It also provides an avenue for these workers to learn new skills and hopefully open up opportunities that lead to continued career growth in long-term care,” said Cour.

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