The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently launched a new online tool that will allow current and prospective healthcare workers to explore more than 80 occupations, identify local education and training programs and tap into current job listings.
Through the Virtual Career Network (VCN) users also can learn how previous experience such as military or on-the-job training can be applied toward a healthcare career, take free online courses and find sources for financial aid.
"Healthcare continues to be one of the bright lights in our improving economy," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis, in a press release. "In order to sustain this positive momentum, we must do everything we can to ensure that our workforce is equipped with the skills and experience that meet the needs of this growing industry. This exciting new platform will help connect people with the knowledge and training they need to qualify for available health care jobs."
DOL is introducing the website at a time when the Internet is more popular than ever as a tool for people hunting for jobs.
[See also: Healthcare sees highest CEO turnover rates]
“The Internet, from a trend standpoint, is increasing in prevalence as far as being used by job seekers,” said Christine M. Ricci, chief communications officer of Lenexa, Kan.-based healthcare recruiting firm B.E. Smith. “People inside and outside of healthcare are becoming more and more heavily dependent on the Internet to find jobs.”
While Ricci believes the new tool will be valuable to job seekers, she also thinks DOL will have to work hard to attract users away from established sites such as Careerbuilders.com and Indeed.com.
“DOL will have to build awareness because the others have gotten such a big head start,” said Ricci.
“They will have to offer greater value than the others. Perhaps they have access to jobs the others don’t,” she added, noting that the education and financial aid components of the site are unique features that DOL should market.
Sponsored by the DOL’s Employment and Training Administration, the VCN is funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and managed by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC).
To build the site and provide initial content, the AACC collaborated with the National Association of Workforce Boards, the American Council on Education, the National Association of State Workforce Agencies, the DirectEmployers Association, the U.S. Department of Defense, Jobs for the Future, the American Dental Education's Explore Health Careers, XPAND, Education 2 Go and iSeek Solutions. Designed as an open-source platform, the VCN will encourage additional organizations to contribute content.
Visit www.vcn.org to learn more.
Follow HFN Editor Rene Letourneau on Twitter @ReneLetourneau.