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Finding a High-Quality Job in the Caring Industry: HPOG Participants’ Occupational Choices

Hannah Thomas, Abt Global, and Jacqueline Mendez, at Abt for the study and now at NORC


March 31, 2022

The Health Profession Opportunity Grants (HPOG) Program funds local career pathways programs to prepare participants for occupations in the healthcare field that pay well and are expected to either experience labor shortages or be in high demand. This brief presents insights from in-depth, in-person interviews with 153 HPOG participants about why and how they chose the healthcare field and their occupation.

The study found that participants:

  • Chose healthcare because they want to care for other people.
  • Considered financial and other job quality factors when choosing a healthcare occupation.
  • Defined job quality broadly. Participants defined job quality as including schedules, benefit packages, autonomy, respect, opportunities for career growth and enhancement, and physical considerations such as lifting and offensive sensory experiences.
  • Viewed occupational choice as an ongoing process, what we call “career crafting,” that evolved with new work experience and life needs.

Improved understanding of participant decision-making about occupational choice can lead to better program design. Doing so likely has implications for how programs:

  • Design career pathways program services to accommodate participants’ goals and help them “craft” their careers to personal and family needs.
  • Link participants to work environments that meet participants’ occupational and job quality goals.
  • Provide ongoing career crafting support after workforce training ends.
  • Help employers structure job opportunities to align with program participant goals and increase employee retention.