Industry: Healthcare & Pharmaceuticals Business Need: Diversity, Goodwill & Community, Onboarding & Training, Retention & Productivity

Stepping Up is an employer-led partnership comprised of health care, labor, education and community organizations. It offers training, education and career support services for low-skilled residents and incumbent workers, supplying local health care employers with a skilled workforce.

case study pdf
"Why do we [Women & Infants Hospital] do this? It's the right thing to do. This is how we advocate for our employees. We find the employees that are most motivated and who want to move up the career pathway and we remove the barriers, and allow them to realize their dream. It is a great way to invest money that we are already spending."
Michael J. Paruta, Director of Workforce Development


In 2006, Rhode Island’s hospitals were competing with and struggling against each other to hire skilled talent from the surrounding communities. The United Nurses & Allied Professionals/Rhode Island Hospital Education Fund and Women & Infants Hospital pooled their resources to begin an employment pathway program to respond to current and projected workforce shortages. The result was Stepping Up.


Stepping Up, a public/private collaboration, administers the career pathway in two distinct phases: 1.) the community pipeline track, which offers work skill development and internship opportunities for low-skilled adults to prepare for entry-level jobs; and 2.) the incumbent employee track, in which employees receive training and career navigation support to progress on a defined career pathway into credentialed occupations. Eighty percent of recruits are unemployed and 22 percent are Opportunity Youth who are recruited from local community organizations.


  • Labor shortages filled with diverse workforce
  • Creation of a skilled and educated entry-level talent pool
  • Strengthened community partnership
  • 98% retention rate for tuition reimbursement program participants


Source: Employment Pathways Project. Updated original Stepping Up Success Story produced by Corporate Voices for Working Families. 2014.

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