GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – Wisconsin will need more than 20,000 home care workers by next year, and thanks to a partnership between the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay (UWGB) and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), that number should go down.

Together, UWGB and the DHS have launched a free online certification program for health workers.

Local 5 News caught up with Margie Reichwald, the Director of Continuing Education, who says the program will fulfill needs in the healthcare industry.

“Our goal is 10,000 people,” stated Reichwald. “That’s a huge number, but by 2040, they are predicting a shortage, a 20,000 decrease in caregivers by 2040.”

Health experts say the number of at-home caregivers dropped during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tony Redpath, the Vice President of Marketing, says the free program will allow people to receive certifications in a timely manner.

“The fact that now they can do this training online, and it does not cost money, and it is actually paid for is why we’re able to start getting these caregivers back,” said Redpath.”

 Reichwald says the university looks to inspire the next generation of healthcare providers.

“We see a need in the community, and it’s a starting block for those who want to go into a healthcare field,” explained Reichwald. “It’s the first building block of building their career.”

Applications for free online certification can be found here.