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Healthcare Career Pathways Program Helps More Low-Income Latinos Earn Credentials


  • Low skills and limited finances prevent Latinos from entering nursing occupations.
  • Abt evaluated whether a Chicago program boosted nursing-training enrollment.
  • Carreras en Salud participants increased the number of Latinos earning credentials.
The Challenge

Most healthcare jobs require postsecondary education or training. But many low-income, low-skilled Latinos face barriers to completing even short-term training for entry-level jobs due to low basic skills, limited finances, and other personal factors. Few bilingual Latinos enrolled in Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) programs in Chicago despite local hospitals’ strong demand for bilingual workers to serve Spanish-speaking patients and despite what Instituto del Progreso Latino found was strong interest among Latinos in healthcare careers.

The Approach

Under the Pathways for Advancing Careers and Education study, Abt evaluated Instituto del Progreso Latino’s Carreras en Salud (Careers in Health) program. It provides a structured training pathway in nursing, starting with on-site basic skills/English as a Second Language (ESL) instruction and continuing to college occupational training and employment services. An implementation study examined the program’s design and operation and students’ participation patterns. An experimental-design impact study measured effects on educational and early employment outcomes 18 months after random assignment.

The Results

Participants assigned to the study’s treatment group, which could access Carreras en Salud, received significantly more hours of basic skills instruction, ESL instruction, and occupational training. The program doubled credential receipt from any source, and Carreras participants were especially more likely to earn credentials from a licensing or certification organization. During the 18-month follow-up period, Carreras participants also received more support and employment services and reported less financial hardship.