WACO, Texas—Ascension Providence received the 2022 Large Employer of the Year award at the Texas Workforce Commission’s (TWC) 25th Annual Texas Workforce Conference held in Dallas Nov. 30 through Dec. 2.
“This is a tremendous honor,” said Ascension Providence Market President Phillip Patterson. “We have obviously been through a lot in the last few years, but we couldn’t have done it without everybody sticking together and really creating that family feel as an organization. And that extends out to our community and the support of the community that we have.”
The Large Employer of the Year award is awarded to one private-sector employer with 500 or more employees for the positive effect its initiatives have on the current and future workforce. Each of the state’s 28 local Workforce Development Boards can nominate an employer from their respective area for this award, and TWC selects one.
Workforce Solutions for the Heart of Texas (Workforce Solutions) nominated Ascension Providence for its ongoing training efforts with future and current healthcare workers.
Ascension Providence has previously partnered with Workforce Solutions and McLennan Community College (MCC) to provide various upskilling opportunities for its employees such as the Skills Development Grant which helped upgrade the skills of incumbent employees.
As one of the founding partners for Waco ISD’s Greater Waco Advanced Health Care Academy (GWAHCA), Ascension Providence serves as a training partner by helping high school students obtain nurse aide and pharmacy technician certifications. These programs provide entry level career pathways to multiple healthcare occupations and help close the gap in this labor market.
“Ascension Providence understands that professional growth helps maintain quality healthcare and better employment retention rates,” said Jose Palacios, business solutions manager for Workforce Solutions for the Heart of Texas. “They are deserving of this award, and we are proud for them to represent the Heart of Texas region at the state level.”
Workforce Solutions employer nominees also received TWC’s Local Employer of Excellence and HireAbility Employer of the Year awards.
Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Waco received the 2022 Local Employer of Excellence award, which is awarded to one private-sector employer from each of the state’s 28 local Workforce Development Boards.
The award honors employers for the positive impact their efforts and initiatives have on their workers, community and other local employers.
Encompass Health opened its 40-bed inpatient rehabilitation hospital in Robinson in August 2021 and has since been an integral part of the Heart of Texas workforce development efforts by participating in local hiring fairs and future workforce initiatives such as the annual YES! Expo, the premier career exploration event for youth. Encompass Health currently employs 141 team members and plans to increase its local workforce significantly.
“Encompass Health is very intentional in making every employee a part of the team through their on-boarding process, which helps to retain employees and make them competitive in the marketplace,” Palacios said. “Their partnership is important to the growth and competitiveness of our workforce.”
The 2022 HireAbility Employer of the Year Award was awarded to Caterpillar Logistics Services, Inc (Cat Logistics), a 500,000 square foot parts distribution center in Waco. This award honors a private-sector employer for using innovative approaches to foster an inclusive workforce and hire Texans with disabilities.
Cat Logistics partnered with the local Workforce Solutions Vocational Rehabilitation Services to implement the Skills Training to Employment Project (STEP) within their organization. Through this program, Cat Logistics provided paid work experience for individuals with disabilities to receive training in warehouse operations. Cat Logistics worked closely with participating individuals to ensure successful training and completion of the program.
STEP’s first cohort resulted in the hiring of three individuals with disabilities, and with new cohorts coming online this summer, employment numbers are expected to grow.
“It is encouraging to see a prominent employer in our community lead the way for an inclusive work environment,” said Palacios. “Caterpillar, with the help of our local Workforce Solutions office, has created a replicable model for other employers in our area to provide employment to individuals with disabilities. “
JAG Aviation was also recognized by TWC as a finalist for the 2022 Small Employer of the Year Award, which is awarded to one private-sector employer with fewer than 500 employees for its impact on the local workforce.
“Our employer partnerships are important in our joint effort of supporting and improving our local workforce,” Palacios said. “We are proud of all of our award nominees and winners, and we thank them for their efforts and partnerships.”
For more information about Workforce Solutions for the Heart of Texas award nominees and winners, visit https://www.hotworkforce.com/home/about-us/recognition-awards/.