Case Study - JVS Patient Services Representative Training

A Bay Area Sector Partnership Connects Dislocated Garment Workers to Jobs in Healthcare

When clothing manufacturers close factories, garment workers find themselves without work and with few re-employment opportunities. When Levi-Strauss closed their last domestic factory, they reached out to non-profit Jewish Vocational Services (JVS) to assist with the transition. JVS acts as a workforce intermediary by connecting jobseekers and workers to the industry-relevant skills and training they need to succeed in local jobs. JVS works closely with employers to determine skills needs for critical occupations. In this case, JVS saw an opportunity to train displaced, often low-skilled individuals with limited English-speaking abilities to transition into entry-level jobs at the University of California at San Francisco Medical Center, one of the largest healthcare providers in the region, and in need of skilled entry-level customer service, administrative, and custodial workers.

JVS is completing its 14th round of the Patient Services Representative Training program, a 16-week training program that trains jobseekers in customer service, medical office terminology and procedures, intermediate computer literacy, medical insurance basics and software, and English-as-a-Second language. The program also offers a 6-week paid internship, and follow-up training to address needed remediation. JVS has expanded the program to the Laguna Honda Hospital and Rehabilitation Center, and added a healthcare environmental service training component to train jobseekers on healthcare facility custodial skills (such as handling blood borne pathogens). JVS worked with City College of San Francisco and Laguna Honda in order to define and articulate the skills sets needed for custodial-related occupations, and then developed a new training curriculum. Articulating the exact skills standards of an occupation is often a key component of a sector partnership training program.

Cindy held a stable job as a seamstress at Unique Garments Inc. until 2004, when the company moved its operations overseas. Cindy had limited English skills and work experience only in the garment industry. Her job prospects looked bleak until she joined the JVS Back to Work Program, where she attended class for six months to improve her English, then spent six months at City College of San Francisco training to work in hospital environmental services. She was hired in August 2006 by UCSF as an Operating Room Department Assistant, cleaning up before and after surgeries. Her new job pays triple her former salary.

 JVS operates sector-specific programs in the biotech, financial services, healthcare, and legal service industries. JVS relies on a partnership model with employers, unions, the local workforce and welfare systems, as well as community-based organizations in order to serve a diverse clientele, including persons with disabilities, low-skilled, low-income and limited- English speakers. Each training program and service is paid for by varying sources of public and private funding, including in-kind support. For example, healthcare management organization Kaiser-Permanente donated training space for the healthcare custodial program.

Compiled by CSW for the California Edge Campaign, 2009