September 1, 2022

Argentum launches education effort to focus on senior living workforce crisis

McKnight Senior Living

Retooling existing federal and state job training programs to include senior living in the menu of options is the focus of Argentum’s latest educational campaign to address the industry’s workforce crisis.

During an Argentum Advocates membership call on Wednesday, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs and Public Policy Maggie Elehwany said that a tremendous amount of job training programs exist, but geriatric care and caregiving opportunities are lacking. The Biden administration, in fact, announced last month the investment of $40 billion in American Rescue Plan funds in workforce development programs.

Argentum is looking to put senior living on the map by educating policymakers on the workforce challenges within the industry, she said. 

“There is a groundswell developing to focus on the workforce crisis,” Elehwany said. 

States, she said, still are sitting on a significant amount of federal American Rescue Plan Act dollars for COVID-19 relief. One goal of the education campaign is to highlight the need for workforce training in senior living and encourage states to funnel those ARPA dollars to providers to address worker shortages.

“There is a tremendous crisis today, but if you look at the sheer demographics of the aging population, we know the crisis could turn cataclysmic if we don’t act soon and train the workforce we need to today,” Elehwany said.

Specifically, Argentum recommends doubling the Labor Department’s Closing the Skills Gap grant program funding to $200 million due its proven success, including language in reports calling on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration and the Labor Department to address senior living workforce challenges, and officially adding assisted living to the definition of “home” in home- and community-based services reports.

“Don’t give up. There is still plenty of time ahead,” Elehwany said. “We need to push from the local level to see those dollars flow.”

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