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Developing Programs for Youth in Allied Health Careers

The Employment and Training Administration (ETA) at the Department of Labor (DOL) is making considerable investments in projects that focus on preparing participants for employment in the health care sector. The release of the Allied Health Access (AHA) Guidebook: How to Develop Programs for Youth in Allied Health Careers is one such example. The AHA Guidebook offers strategies and resources to create or expand programs and services leading to allied health opportunities for youth and young adults.

Opportunities for Youth

The health care industry as a whole – and especially the allied health care sector – has great promise for employing youth and young adults. While some allied health opportunities are in highly technical, demanding specialties, many allied health careers are open to anyone with a good basic education (e.g. a high school diploma or GED), good work habits – the “soft skills” of punctuality, communication, teamwork and reliability – and a modest amount of training.

What is Allied Health?

Allied Health professionals are involved with the delivery of health or related services pertaining to the identification, evaluation and prevention of diseases and disorders; dietary and nutrition services; rehabilitation and health systems management, among others. Allied health professionals, to name a few, include dental hygienists, diagnostic medical sonographers, dietitians, medical technologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, radiographers, respiratory therapists, and speech language pathologists.

A Career Pathway

Many Allied Health jobs can be used as excellent entry points to a career pathway leading to better pay and a bright future. National credentials, which can be earned in as little as six months to two years, are offered as alternatives to more lengthy and costly undergraduate degrees.

For these reasons, an allied health career can be an excellent field for youth who are at-risk, out-of-school, or have some other barrier to employment. With the right support and encouragement, many individuals may find a successful long-term career in allied health. Although the beginning of the path may be an entry-level position, additional education and professional development can quickly lead to ever-increasing levels of responsibility and compensation.

The Allied Health Access Guidebook

The purpose of the Allied Health Access Guidebook is to provide youth program planners and service providers with practical information about allied health occupations in order to create or expand programs and services leading to allied health opportunities for youth and young adults.

The guidebook has five sections. These include:

  • What is Allied Health?
    Description of the industry as well as the current and projected demand
  • Allied Health Occupations
    Basic labor market information on specific occupations and various career pathways
  • Developing Programs for Youth in Allied Health Careers
    Practical steps to creating a program in local areas
  • Case Studies
    Examples of programs developed around the country with valuable lessons learned
  • Appendix
    Additional resources to assist in program development

The Guidebook can be accessed here: http://wdr.doleta.gov/directives/attach/TEN/ten2010/ten10-10a1.pdf (PDF, 59 pages).

A series of podcasts that feature young adults who have been trained through the public workforce system and are now currently working in different allied health occupations has been recently released to support the information found in the guidebook. This series provides practical information about allied health occupations in order to assist both young adults and workforce staff in developing a career plan. View the podcasts series here: https://www.workforce3one.org/view/1001126246478856468/info

Questions can be directed to Sara Hastings at the Department of Labor at hastings.sara@dol.gov or by phone at 202-693-3599.