‘Will hire for attitude and train for skill’

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(Posted Dec. 4, 2014)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

What do job applicants lack?

It’s a question David Kell, Madison County’s economic development director, recently asked area employers. Their answer: soft skills and basic life skills.

“They want workers who show up on time, can pass a drug test, know when not to be on their phone… They want people who know what it means to be a quality worker,” Kell said. “They say, ‘We’ll hire for attitude and train for skill.’ ”

To find a way to fill that gap, Kell, representing Madison County Future Inc., the economic development arm of the Madison County Chamber of Commerce, partnered with Kim Wilson, superintendent of Tolles Career and Technical Center in Plain City.

Wilson came up with the idea of a voluntary Workforce Readiness Credential that students could earn while in high school, and Kell ran with it.

“We chose to focus on graduating high school seniors because they are a concentrated group with the potential to be a pipeline of employees,” Kell said.

To earn the credential, a student must complete a series of tasks and meet a list of criteria that focuses on attendance, service, communication, time management and teamwork. Kell and Wilson looked to area employers for help in establishing the criteria, working primarily with manufac-turing and distribution companies as that’s where the county is seeing the most job growth.

In return for meeting the criteria, a student receives a certificate of completion, which when submitted with an application to a participating Madison County company, guarantees the student an interview with that company. If no positions are open at the time of the inter-view, the student’s resumé or application is put in a file for future consideration.

“Some highly recognizable Madison County businesses have come on board to support the initiative, which will put in the hands of students a real credential that can guarantee them a shot at employment with participating employers,” Wilson said.

So far, the list of participating businesses includes: Ace Hardware Distribution Center (West Jefferson), BST Trucking (London), D.B. Schenker (West Jefferson), GRA-MAG Truck Interior Systems (London), Intelligrated (London), Keihin Thermal Technology (Mount Sterling), M.H. Eby (West Jefferson), Nissen Chemitec (London), Showa Aluminum (Mount Sterling), Stanley Electric U.S. Co. (London), and Target Distribution Center (West Jefferson).

Kell is working with administrators at Tolles and Madison County’s four high schools. The plan is to roll out the Workforce Readiness Credential program across the county in January 2015.

“We will have a point person in each district to answer students’ questions, but otherwise it is up to the students to show the initiative to complete the program,” Kell said.

About the program’s potential, he said, “Our hope is that it keeps employers happy and keeps people living and working in Madison County.”

To learn more about the Workforce Readiness Credential, call David Kell at the Chamber/Madison County Future Inc. office, (740) 852-2250, or Kim Wilson at Tolles, (614) 873-4666.

Criteria for obtaining the Madison County Workforce Readiness Credential:

  • Minimum attendance average of 97 percent during the senior year of high school;
  • Documented organized tour of at least one Madison County business;
  • Documented 20 hours of community service or established employment while in high school;
  • Completion of OhioMeansJobs.com assessments related to workplace success skills, writing, critical thinking and computer skills;
  • Clean voluntary drug screen within three months of date of certificate application;
  • Ability to obtain a clean background check for employment;
  • Proof of reliable transportation;
  • Valid form of identification;
  • Attainment of a high school diploma or GED.

Highly recommended but not required:

  • Attend one local job fair hosted at Tolles or another local school;
  • Participate in one organized mock interview prior to graduation.

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