The McGuire Group, 1199SEIU and Trocaire College Join Forces on Apprenticeship Program

Collaboration, funded by New York State grant, aims to close the skills gap between employer needs and the skills of the current workforce


Through a workforce development in long term care grant from New York State, The McGuire Group, 1199SEIU Upstate healthcare union and Trocaire College are collaborating on an apprenticeship program to help close skills gaps within the nursing workforce.

Currently, 10 union-certified nursing assistants (CNA) working at McGuire have enrolled in the Practical Nursing program at Trocaire to pursue an advanced nursing degree.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Apprenticeships: Closing the Skills Gaps funding opportunity is also supporting the collaboration. The purpose of the two-year program is to promote apprenticeships as a significant workforce solution in filling current middle- and high-skilled job vacancies and closing the skills gap between employer workforce needs and the skills of the current workforce.

“The students’ range of experience varies from one year to greater than 18 years, and all have been tremendously engaged in the program,” stated Dana Mata, RN, AAS, BS, nurse manager for The McGuire Group. “The apprenticeship curriculum includes coursework in a wide range of topics from regulatory, quality management and leadership training to application of clinical skills taught in their nursing program. The program also includes integrating McGuire policies and process already in place and continuing with the McGuire mission of providing quality care in all of our facilities.”

In order to be eligible to participate in the apprenticeship program, the students had to have worked for at least one year at McGuire in addition to meeting academic thresholds.

As part of the collaboration, Trocaire provides the Practical Nursing curriculum and support services. 1199SEIU facilitates testing used for screening, tutoring and processes all the tuition payments. In addition to employment, McGuire also provides the on-the job training (OJT). The students’ school hours and OJT substitute for their work hours. The students are also working at least one shift per week at their facility.

“The students in the program had been away from school for a long time and were scared and overwhelmed. With classes going remote due to the pandemic, many also needed to learn new technologies,” said Jennifer Blickwedehl, Ph.D., associate dean for curriculum and instruction and program director, general studies, Trocaire College. “With all that, in addition to the stress COVID-19 added to their workload, they are all doing amazingly well and have been a wonderful addition to the classroom.”

The students started classes spring 2020. Some started with prerequisites, and others were admitted directly into the Practical Nursing program. The students recently started summer school and anticipate earning their degrees at the end of the spring 2021 semester. Following completion of the program and passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), the students will be promoted to practical nurses with McGuire.


About The McGuire Group:
The McGuire Group’s five WNY facilities provide subacute and outpatient rehabilitation, skilled nursing care, memory care, palliative care and respite/short-term care. They are consistently rated with five stars out of five by the federal government, which rates every nursing home in the country. In addition, the Department of Health’s Nursing Home Quality Initiative (NHQI) has ranked all of The McGuire Group’s facilities in the top 20% for 6 consecutive years. The McGuire Group is the only multi-facility provider in the state to have achieved this milestone. For more information visit, or

About 199SEIU:
1199SEIU, United Healthcare Workers East, is the largest and fastest-growing healthcare union in the nation. We represent over 14,500 healthcare workers in Western, NY and over 400,000 total members throughout New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Florida. Our mission is to achieve quality care and good jobs for all.

About Trocaire College:
Founded in 1958 in Buffalo, NY by the Sisters of Mercy, Trocaire College is a private, career-oriented Catholic college that strives to empower students toward personal enrichment, dignity and self-worth through education. Trocaire offers bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees, certificates and workforce development programs in healthcare, business, hospitality and technology. Recognizing the individual needs of a diverse student body, Trocaire College provides life learning and development within a community-based environment, preparing students for service in the universal community. 

What The McGuire Group/1199SEIU employees and Trocaire College students are saying about the program:

“It was a blessing to have my union and my employer come together to offer this opportunity. I can go to school without missing work, and I have strong support system to help me every step of the way. This has been a great experience for me.”

Patricia Jackson, CNA at The McGuire Group, Northgate Health Care Facility, North Tonawanda


“My dream has always been to be in the medical field to help people live out their lives as best as possible and this LPN apprenticeship program is an amazing opportunity for me to be able to get an education to further my career while still being able to help care for my family financially. Without this program, many people, including myself, could never do this program alone. With The McGuire Group, 1199SEIU and Trocaire, we have all the support we will ever need.”

Deina Neff, CNA at The McGuire Group, Northgate Health Care Facility, North Tonawanda


“Being in the apprenticeship program has given me the financial and academic support I needed to go back to school. Trocaire’s professors have been a great help during this uncertain time and have helped us succeed and learn to the best of our abilities. With the help of the tutors from 1199, I have been successful in the program so far and am excited to continue. Without the McGuire Group, Trocaire, and 1199 I would not be where I am today, and I am so grateful for them for giving me this opportunity.”

Kaitlyn Delmont, CNA at The McGuire Group, Autumn View Health Care Facility, Hamburg