Making a Difference: Joe Steier

A Force in Workforce Development

You only have to speak to Joe Steier, CEO of Signature Healthcare, for a few moments to realize that what he calls the three pillars of his company are more than just a mission statement tucked away as a wistful idea.

Steier’s faith is in the power of education, spirituality, and something he calls inter-preneurship, or fostering innovation among its employees.

To achieve this goal, KET’s GED test preparation materials have provided Steier the tools he needs to build learning among his employees since 2011.

Joe Steier
“I didn’t realize the GED was going to be as big a thing as it was,” said Steier, a Louisville native who moved his company from Florida to Louisville in 2009. It operates 143 long-term, home health, and acute-care facilities in 12 states.

“But I started hearing, behind closed doors, people who would say, ‘you know, I never finished high-school because I got pregnant or my dad was laid off and I went to work,’’ he said. “People had the emotional intelligence, the empathy, to be a caregiver but not having a high-school education was blocking their way.”

Signature helps remove that blockade by offering instruction through KET’s Fast Forward online GED test preparation system.

Fast Forward is designed to prepare learners though its educational content and to familiarize them with the computer skills necessary to take the GED test. Students study at their own pace for the GED test online. Signature provides access to these materials to employees, gives them a place to study and use the computer, and covers the costs for the test.

Steier has the education himself to know of what he speaks. He’s earned multiple degrees in accounting, business, and education (a doctorate) — not to mention a Certified Nursing Assistant certification, the first level many of his employees must pass in order to move along what he calls the “GED to Ph. D.” path.

“We had people we were trying to help that we told, ‘let’s put a résumé together.’ But they had no idea how. And things like finance classes — we wanted to give employees access to all these things that might be holding them back from being good, productive citizens,” he said.

Signature has estimated that approximately 800 of its 11,000 employees could benefit from GED instruction. About 100 employees have enrolled per year since it began the partnership with KET.

Signature, which among its upper management has a vice-president for learning, has prepared a convenient place on its website for employee learners to access KET materials. Since its launch for employees, Steier says residents in its facilities have also expressed interest in the courses — and for their family members. In this way, he says, the company can be a positive influence in the community as well.

“What we have tried to do is be more of a social movement than a corporation,” Steier said.

With a vice president of spirituality also on board, Steier has marshaled the chaplains Signature has in every facility to help along those who wish to get a GED certificate but might be reluctant to step forward and admit their lack of education. Human resources representative are also trained as liaisons.

“KET has helped us accelerate our Learning Pillar,” Steier said. “We saw KET as the perfect partner — and it wasn’t just because I had Kentucky roots. There is a great respect for KET because it’s a blended learning model. KET has a lot of ways to deliver learning to people.”

Develop Your Workforce

Companies in Kentucky and the nation know the benefits an educated workforce have on the bottom line, to the state economy, and to the betterment of individual employees. A cost-effective partner in workforce development, KET provides proven, effective learning materials that help companies and individuals achieve their goals. Business leaders interested in offering Fast Forward to their employees can contact Tonya Crum, KET Director of Adult Education and Workforce Development, at or (859) 258-7009.

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