State approves apprenticeship program for hospital workers

State officials have approved Maryland's first apprenticeship for environmental care supervisors, who work in hospitals cleaning areas such as surgical rooms.

The Baltimore Alliance for Careers in Healthcare will sponsor the new training program, Kelly M. Schulz, secretary of the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, said Tuesday.

Such programs help businesses expand their talent pools, Schulz said.

Apprentices will receive technical instruction through the Community College of Baltimore County and be paired with mentors Baltimore-area hospitals. Trainees' wages will increase when they show proficiency in a list of predetermined job functions. Johns Hopkins Hospital will be the first institution to offer the on-the-job training

Apprenticeships offer a way for job seekers to advance in a career without needing a four-year degree, said Laura Spada, executive director of the Baltimore Alliance, a nonprofit that works to address the shortage of qualified health care workers in Baltimore.

"Hospitals in Baltimore City are committed to developing a strong workforce with many opportunities for growth, at the same time opening the doors to career paths that result in family-sustaining wages," Spada said.

The apprenticeship program is part of a $2 million grant Maryland received from the U.S. Department of Labor in October. The grant also will help fund a pilot program for skilled immigrants who are documented U.S. residents in health care-related occupations.

lorraine.mirabella@baltsun.com

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