But when it comes to career advancement opportunities for healthcare support staff, "There are almost none that we can find that get you from the support side to the professional and technical sides," Carnevale says. "There is the big valley there. It looks like the bridge between support and professional/technical is just not built."
"Support staff move into these jobs with minimal training and actually the amount of training is declining. More and more people in support have no certificate and no formal preparation," he says. "Where there is formal preparation it is minimal. We don't see movement out. There is a void and the difference between the two groups is very striking."
Yet even with their relatively low wages, healthcare support staff tend to be very loyal. "They show up for work and they stay. You would think these would be transitional jobs but they aren't," Carnevale says. "In low-wage labor markets there is lots of churn. That doesn't happen in healthcare. They stay on the job for a long time. There is a commitment, and we believe the commitment comes from the fact that, relatively speaking, this is a better job than the one they'd get if they left."