A Quest for Learning
Building skills helps employees adjust to changes
Even during a pandemic, it’s important to keep learning.
When Kaiser Permanente storekeeper Vincent Woodard heard about skills days in May at Oakland Medical Center, he signed up.
“You’ve got to keep up with the times,” says Woodard, an SEIU-UHW member who orders and delivers supplies for doctors and nurses. “I’m always wanting to learn more. The more I know, the more I can teach and share.”
Kaiser Permanente encourages lifelong learning. With COVID-19 reshaping health care from the emergence of new roles to increased virtual care, the 2 Labor Management Partnership-supported education trusts are tailoring trainings to help employees adapt by building career resilience and digital skills.
Partnership Supports Upskilling
Northern California’s Workforce Planning and Development Committee was planning skills days when COVID-19 hit. The committee wanted to proceed. The administration agreed. In 2 weeks, labor and management organized skills days with the SEIU UHW-West & Joint Employer Education Fund.
“It’s a trying time with workflows changing to adapt to COVID-19,” says committee labor co-chair Sonya Allen-Smith, an SEIU-UHW contract specialist. “You have to stay skilled up because the work world is constantly changing.”
More than 80 employees participated in 2 Oakland sessions. Housekeepers, medical assistants and radiology techs met in a large conference room, wearing masks and keeping social distance, learning in person and virtually about communication, leadership and emotional intelligence.
Woodard, a 7-year Kaiser Permanente employee and longtime youth basketball coach, related to lessons about teamwork, bringing positive energy and managing frustrations.
“I’m definitely going to use this,” Woodard says. “You’re not always going to get your way. You’ve got to know when to walk away. Hold yourself accountable.”
Northern California is looking to expand skills days. Other regions also are exploring virtual skills days.
“This training is good for labor and management,” says Janis Cruz, support services administrator for the East Bay. “It helps develop soft skills to navigate uncertainty and ignite interest in continued learning.”
Building career resilience
To help adjust to changes, Kaiser Permanente and the education trusts offer online critical skills courses in collaboration, consumer focus, digital fluency and performance improvement.
In May, the Ben Hudnall Memorial Trust launched the Career Resilience Quest, an online course that explores the characteristics of resilience — the ability to adjust to workplace change as it happens.
“We’re experiencing drastic change,” says Ben Hudnall career counseling project manager David Rosenberg. “Developing resilience in general, and career resilience specifically, really helps to respond constructively.
“Career resilience characteristics are like muscles. We need to exercise those muscles, so they’re strong.”
Pharmacy assistant Sergio Romero, a UFCW Local 324 member in Southern California, knows the power of resilience. A few years ago, his mother and roommate died months apart.
He reflected on his career, worked with Ben Hudnall career counselor Jan Cummings, completed a certification program and then began the resilience course.
“With this pandemic, there’s a lot of hopelessness,” Romero says. “The resilience quest boosted me back up. It kept me going.”