The Labor Department has given the nation’s largest senior living operator permission to launch an apprenticeship program for certified nursing assistants. The initiative, first reported by McKnight’s Senior Living on Nov. 14, will provide on-the-job and technical training to selected candidates.

Brookdale Senior Living’s program also is expected to help the firm offset an ongoing labor shortage.

Brookdale plans to kick off the program after January at communities in Chattanooga, TN. Should the effort succeed, it will be expanded to communities in other cities.

“This is an investment in our people and our communities that aligns with our business strategy to be a talent magnet,” Brookdale CEO Cindy Baier said.

Selected apprentices will be paired with a mentor for coaching and support during what is expected to be a year-long program. In addition to career development, associates who complete the program will earn a nationally recognized certified nursing assistant certificate and be eligible for up to three pay increases during the program.

Brookdale plans to work with state and local economic development offices to launch and expand the program.

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