Health sciences occupations are a significant focus of Illinois’ job growth trajectory. Illinois is experiencing rapid growth in the healthcare sector that could result in a statewide workforce shortage for a range of occupations such as nurses, nurse practitioners, and medical/laboratory technicians. With an aging population, Illinois is more likely to experience these shortages than the typical state, with the shortage exacerbated by the COVID-19 public health crisis. To help spur Illinois’ education system in preparing students to meet this demand, EdSystems released the Illinois Model Programs of Study Guide for Health Sciences in October 2020, in collaboration with Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and the Illinois Community College Board. The guide—which identifies priority occupations, promising credentials, and a framework for secondary-to-postsecondary pathways that incorporate meaningful work-based learning opportunities—is intended to be locally adopted and customized using regional data by communities across Illinois.
The Health Sciences Career Exploration and Career Development Experience Pilot is designed to help communities implement the career exploration and career development experiences that align to the guide. Pilot sites are designing targeted resources and supports to raise awareness of career opportunities in the Health Sciences sector and the pathways available to enter the field.
The EdSystems team is engaging a two-generation approach to Career Exploration in Health Sciences, supporting pilot schools to design events and resources that inspire both the student and their parents, guardians, or other family members about current and future career opportunities. Utilizing the research and recommendations in the Illinois Model Programs of Study for Health Sciences, we are designing presentation and supporting materials that highlight health sciences occupations that are in demand, have forecasted growth, and pay a living wage. We are providing technical assistance to the pilot schools to customize the presentation and materials to incorporate regional occupation demands and wage and communicate explicit details on local secondary and postsecondary pathways. The Career Exploration experiences piloted from these events will be captured as models to be shared broadly through our Illinois Work-Based Learning Innovation Network.
In addition to giving students and families deeper exposure to occupations through direct engagement with industry professionals, EdSystems is capturing the Career Development Experience (CDE) models that exist within the three communities on a template to be shared more broadly. EdSystems is providing additional resources and supports to refine the CDEs and explore new approaches to their existing models to increase equity. Once finalized, we will broadly share the resources through our Illinois Work-Based Learning Innovation Network.
EdSystems has confirmed three communities to collaborate on the design and implementation of the Career Exploration event:
- Plainfield School District 202 with YMCA, Joliet Junior College, and Edwards Hospital
- Chicago Public Schools with City Colleges of Chicago, RUSH University Medical Center, and the Rush Education and Career Hub (REACH)
- East St. Louis School District 189 with Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Southwestern Illinois College
Each community partnership includes a postsecondary partner who is providing input on customizing the Illinois Model Program of Study Guide in Health Sciences and Technology to reflect the education pathways available at their college. Postsecondary partners will also be presenting at the event and bringing along admissions representatives to answers questions one-on-one from students and families.