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Midwestern Urban Strategies Shines Spotlight on KC Partnerships

Midwestern Urban Strategies hosted a roundtable in April, spotlighting the partnerships between the Full Employment Council and local businesses and training institutions.

“The work that has been happening through the Full Employment Council is referred to as ‘just-in-time’ training,” said Tracey Carey, executive director of MUS. “It’s a model or approach to training that looks at the current needs of employers in a given industry, and brings together and brings together the resources of the public system, philanthropy, corporate donations, and the institution itself to address the challenges or barriers to bringing in a pipeline of workers along a career pathway.”

The approach has been a deliberate, thoughtful one. Rohina Berhmann, director of employer services and special projects at the FEC, presented at the roundtable, along with Trisha Pepper, manager of recruitment from John Knox Village, Lynette Wheeler, chief operating officer at TMC Lakewood, and Scott Boyce, program director at the University of Central Missouri, pictured below, left to right. They represent a group of local educators and employers the FEC has partnered with in response to a local need in the Kansas City area for healthcare workers.

“We decided employers needed to be at the center of anything we did,” Behrmann stated, explaining that the purpose of the partnership was to really provide the wraparound services FEC members need. “They needed to have a voice in how we developed our training programs.” The employers dictate the curriculum, which is then developed and delivered by the training partners, Behrmann explained. This allows for a seamless delivery, as well as consistency in training.

Wheeler explained that Truman Medical Center partnered up with the Full Employment Council when they realized that many people who wanted to become CNAs, which was one of their greatest employment needs, were often unable to afford the training. Additionally, even if they were provided access to training, people needed additional support in areas like childcare and transportation.

“It’s not just about supporting a student through a CNA program,” Wheeler said. “There are a lot of socioeconomic issues that have to be dealt with.” The partnership allows for just that, developing and delivering supports to students and graduates beyond just classroom training.

“One of the things I have been most inspired by, in the work that you all are engaged in, is the focus you’ve placed on under-represented women,” said Carey.

Pepper then explained how the internal process of creating a pipeline at John Knox Village dovetailed with the work the Full Employment Council. Working with the FEC and the US Department of Labor, Pepper was instrumental in creating the CNA apprenticeship program in the state of Missouri in 2015, which was the first of its kind. The model was eventually used to encompass CMT training, as well.

“Our partnership is a two-way street,” Pepper said in reference to the work the group is doing in Kansas City.

For Boyce, one of the key aspects of the program the partners have developed has been the ability for the students to earn a paycheck while they attend training.

“That has been a game changer,” Boyce said, adding that there are so many opportunities within the healthcare field, once a person starts.

MUS represents a coordinated effort on behalf of 13 Department of Labor urban workforce development boards to marry traditional workforce development practices with economic development. Clyde McQueen, CEO and President of the FEC, currently serves as chairman of the board. If your business would like to partner with the Full Employment Council, please contact Rohina Behrmann at

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