“This grant is an incredible honor,” said Argentum President and CEO James Balda, pictured here at the organization’s 2019 annual meeting.

Argentum expects to use a grant of almost $6 million from the Department of Labor to train more than 7,200 apprentices in key senior living and allied health occupations, the organization announced Wednesday.

The Labor Department revealed the recipients of the Apprenticeship: Closing the Skills Gap grants on Tuesday. Argentum’s application was one of 28 public-private partnerships that received a collective amount of almost $100 million. At $5,991,235, the four-year award for Argentum’s Healthcare Apprenticeship Expansion Program was near the maximum grant amount of $6 million.

“Senior living providers increasingly see that building robust career paths will be critical to retaining and growing the skilled workers we need,” Argentum President and CEO James Balda said in a statement. “This grant is an incredible honor and will help turn that vision into a reality,” he added.

Argentum submitted its grant application in September, Argentum Vice President of Workforce Development Brent Weil told McKnight’s Senior Living. The funding is scheduled to begin March 1, with the apprenticeships being rolled out over the course of the project, he added.

“Twelve employer partners, eight institutions of higher education, one workforce board and one nonprofit organization joined Argentum as partners in the proposal,” Weil said. “We expect to add additional partners as the project goes forward.”

For now, the apprenticeships will take place in 14 states, according to Argentum. Occupations that will be targeted for the training program include certified nursing assistants, licensed practical nurses, registered nurses, rehabilitation technicians and pharmacy technicians, as well as supervisors and executive directors in assisted living communities and healthcare cybersecurity specialists.

Employers that participate in the HAEP may join a national steering group to define career paths and competencies, Argentum said. Additionally, they will receive technical assistance to execute an apprenticeship and will have access to funds to pay for employee training.

Separately, Argentum formed an apprenticeship steering group in March 2019, and the group has been working to identify critical competencies and define minimum guidelines for on-the-job training and instruction for caregivers. That group has developed an apprenticeship for caregivers in senior living that has been submitted to the Labor Department, Weil said.

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