March 28, 2023

Ready To Hire: Q&A with Rya Conrad-Bradshaw

It’s no secret that the United States is currently experiencing a significant skilled talent gap, with employers struggling to find skilled workers to fill open roles in several critical industries. In an October 2022 survey, 85 percent of healthcare facilities reported allied health talent shortages and noted the significant need to fill roles that require certifications. This issue is not unique to healthcare. The (ISC)² Cybersecurity Workforce Study cited a current global cybersecurity workforce gap of 3.4 million people. These gaps make it extremely challenging for employers in these high demand fields to fill open roles without rethinking old approaches to hiring. 

With the recent launch of Ready to Hire, Cengage Group is bringing together employers, educators and learners to help address these key workforce training and talent needs. Rya Conrad-Bradshaw, Vice President, Corporate Markets at Cengage Work, has over a decade of experience at the intersection of education and employment, working with Fortune 500 companies across sectors to create innovative training and talent programs. She has expertise in solving skills gaps, creating greater equity through talent solutions and working through the complex workforce system to deliver lasting, scalable results.

To learn more, we spoke with Rya about how Ready to Hire is combining Cengage Group’s expertise in allied health and cybersecurity skills training with our vast academic and workforce development partner network to help employers build their talent pipelines. 


Ready To Hire Rya Conrad Bradshaw


What is Ready to Hire?

Ready to Hire is a holistic talent solution to help employers build an entry-level workforce. Right now, so many employers are struggling to find talent, particularly in critical industries like healthcare. The current solutions don’t always offer the scale or quick impact that most employers need or a particularly good experience for students and entry-level candidates who want to get into the field.

With Ready to Hire, we use our national reach through our partner institutions and our quality of learning to train and place learners for specific jobs, many of which require certification. Our goal is to dramatically increase the number of people coming into the healthcare field by making it more accessible to students, while increasing the relevance of our partners in their local workforce ecosystems. We bring the technology, infrastructure and scale to solve employers’ talent gaps, while ensuring there can be a specific local aspect.


Ready To Hire Fills Healthcare Jobs


How does Ready to Hire help employers?

Ready to Hire finds qualified, ready-to-learn candidates who want to work in the industry but might have previously not had access to certification. We vet candidates, provide pre-hire training and connect them with employers who have talent needs. We already have a large catalog of certification courses approved by national bodies and deliver above average certification results, ensuring high-quality education in both technical skills and soft skills. Employers can be sure that candidates are pre-qualified, pre-trained and have a proven interest, work ethic, grit and persistence.

We give each employer a local connection through our network of partners, while providing the scaling infrastructure to work across locations and attract and train hundreds of candidates at a time. This is important because traditionally employers have primarily hired people who were already trained (by other organizations or academic institutions), limiting their talent pipelines. With Ready to Hire, new talent is trained to the employers’ specifications in a way that can scale across sites and geographies. This training and onboarding solution builds the infrastructure for employers to de-risk entry-level hiring and ensure new hires are up-to speed and trained consistently for their high-priority roles.

We support candidates throughout training and onboarding to make sure they’re successful, especially through the first six months of employment. This matters to us both so that we help ensure that people are successful, and to ensure that the employer sees the value of hiring trainees through Ready to Hire. It’s estimated that the cost to hire a certified entry-level candidate in allied health is between $6,000 and $12,000. With a new pipeline for talent and processes in place to help retain talent, Ready to Hire can help reduce long-term hiring costs and turnover for employers, while also expanding and diversifying their talent pool.


Why is Ready to Hire focusing first on healthcare, IT and cybersecurity?

Healthcare, IT and cybersecurity are industries critical to our nation that are experiencing shortages of qualified entry-level talent. According to an analysis by Boston Consulting Group, there is a gap of 300,000 newly certified allied health professionals annually and healthcare jobs are expected to grow by 13 percent over the next decade, much faster than most other industries. The need is similar in cybersecurity, with the World Economic Forum reporting that almost three out of every five businesses don’t have employees with the skills needed to respond to a cybersecurity incident.

Cengage Group has existing expertise in these critical industries with our course offerings from ed2go and Infosec. We have industry-leading training content for allied health, IT and cybersecurity professionals and proven success helping learners complete education that leads to employment. Ready to Hire is uniquely positioned to develop and place qualified talent in these fields.


Ready To Hire Technology Skills Gap


What makes Ready to Hire different?

When we talk to hospitals, they often have hundreds of entry-level roles open. They have been struggling to fill employment gaps and must to explore new approaches to get the talent they need. They are often not resourced to manage multiple talent programs across roles and geographies, but they don’t have to do it alone. With Ready to Hire, we’re uniquely and expertly placed to help make an impact and make the connection between education and employment. We work with more than 2,000 community colleges and workforce agencies nationwide. We bring the scale, relationships and deep expertise in training in the healthcare, IT and cybersecurity industries to help employers close the skills gap.

We know that people pursue certificates with the hopes of getting a job. For learners, Ready to Hire takes the risk out of investing in this training. Not only is an employer going to pay for all or a portion of the certificate, but they are also going to be there on the other side with a job as long as students meet the milestones. This helps make the career path accessible for more people and creates an expanded and diversified talent pool for employers. 


How can employers connect to learn more about Ready to Hire?

If you want to learn more about how we can help solve your talent needs and attract, upskill and access untapped pools of talent, please reach out so we can have a conversation.



Learn More

Cengage Work provides flexible, affordable online courses and programs to help adults rapidly gain the skills needed to be job ready. We believe that our education products and services lead directly to job outcomes and with Ready to Hire, we connect employers with qualified, certified students who are ready to join their organizations and make an impact. Learn more about Cengage Work and what we do at Cengage Group.

Read Rya's latest LinkedIn article: Why Solving Structural Healthcare Talent Shortages Requires a New Approach