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Education and Workforce Workforce Spotlight: CVS Health CEO Larry J. Merlo


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This week’s #WorkforceWednesday features Larry J. Merlo, President and CEO of CVS Health.

As Merlo explains, CVS Health is focused on closing the skills gap with customized initiatives to recruit, train and hire qualified pharmacy professionals:

“Addressing the shortage of highly-trained pharmacy health care professionals — including pharmacy technicians — demands a proactive and innovative approach. That’s exactly what we are pursuing at CVS Health. The apprenticeships and career improvement pathways that CVS Health offers today will help us build a skilled workforce for tomorrow and stronger, healthier communities for the future.”

Here’s a look at a few of the ongoing workforce development initiatives led by CVS Health and CEO Larry J. Merlo. Additional information can be found here.

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The Problem

  • The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment of pharmacy technicians will increase 12 percent between 2016 and 2026, faster than the average rate for all U.S. occupations. This will require approximately 47,600 new pharmacy technicians from 2016–2026, according to BLS.
  • As demand for pharmaceutical services increases, filling these jobs with highly-skilled, credentialed employees is essential to meeting patient needs and overcoming workforce shortages now and in the future.

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The Programs

Since 2005, CVS Health has participated in the U.S. Department of Labor’s “ApprenticeshipUSA” initiative and was the first employer to launch a Registered Apprenticeship program for pharmacy technicians. Nationwide, CVS Health has more than 8,000 apprentices, with Michigan and South Carolina as the top locations. These programs offer classroom and online instruction, professional mentorship, on the job training and an opportunity to receive a nationally recognized, portable credential.  

CVS Health has also launched initiatives designed specifically to increase employment opportunities and training for U.S. veteranspeople with disabilities, youth, as well as mature workers (Americans who have passed the “traditional” retirement age). Additionally, the company’s “myCVS Journey Pathways to Health Care Careers” program introduces students of all ages to career opportunities in health care and STEM-related fields.

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The Progress

CVS Health’s Registered Apprenticeship program continues to expand, offering new and meaningful career pathways to more people throughout the United States:

  • Between 2012 and 2014, CVS Health expanded its apprenticeships in South Carolina, where more than 720 pharmacy technicians registered with the Office of Apprenticeship.
  • With assistance from the Department of Labor and local grants, CVS Health has expanded its program to 19 states including Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
  • In 2015 CVS Health committed to increase the number of its apprentices to 3,000 by 2020. CVS Health officially surpassed their goal in 2017. During that time CVS expanded their apprenticeship occupation offerings to include two additional occupations — Logistics Supervisor and pharmacy benefits management (PBM) prior authorization technician.
  • The Registered Apprenticeship program has been so successful that CVS Health has increased their previous commitment for 5,000 additional apprentices by 2022, and at the same time, will explore how it can offer apprenticeships in other career pathways, including infusion pharmacy, specialty pharmacy, nursing, and digital.

To learn more about workforce development initiatives led by CVS Health and other Business Roundtable CEO member companies, please visit: https://www.businessroundtable.org/skills