Thursday, December 6, 2007
Group talks workforce training
By SUE WATSON
Several industrial leaders recently met with a Northwest Community College representative and Betty Yates with the business and Business Development Corp. BDC) at Rust College to plan for the direction to take workforce training and recruiting.
Clencie Cotton with BDC said his group will take job applications and provide softskills training and assessment for those who have been laid off or who are looking for work. The program targets the adult population.
Employers use different methods in taking job applications, some now requiring aptitude tests and on-line job applications. Cotton said his group can determine general workforce readiness through testing. A new method of sorting applicants based on readiness provides a coded certification method - bronze, silver, and gold - with each certification designating the applicants’ abilities for certain types of jobs.
“The certificate lets industry know the prospective hires have certain skills,” he said.
Collectively, Rust College and the BDC, the City of Holly Springs and Marshall County IDA have about 2,000 job applications on file, he said.
Rust College BDC validates the skill level and job readiness of an applicant and helps applicants work toward a higher level of work readiness.
“Our aim is to upgrade the talent pool, and have people come to look for employment or training,” Cotton said.
“Industry will still rely on specific training of employees, but Rust College will help sift through applications to find those with minimum qualifications.”
The testing also helps determine those who are ready for workforce training. BDC also serves in a case management role - helping individuals motivate, direct and focus their attention on a goal.
So far, the state has issued about 1,800 certificates, Cotton said.
“We expect competition in this community to be keen,” he said. “We do not expect overnight success. We look at it as a long-term effort - more intensive.”
Betty Yates with BDC said most web-site applications require an aptitude test, but many out of work are not willing to take a test.
“Most people are averse to testing because of their lack of confidence in their ability to do well on the test,” Cotton said. “So I believe that exposure to test taking will help.”
He said BDC is lucky to get 50 percent of applicants to take any type of test.
“But we have to start somewhere,” he said.
Employers are asking for more from applicants than a diploma or GED certificate, he said.
Tony Borden with Mid-South Custom Fabricators in Holly Springs suggested OSHA consultants from Mississippi State University do a walk-through. They can point out problems that need addressing right away and those that may need more time, he said.
“You needn’t be afraid of them,” he said. “They are not the policemen. They will come in and put programs in place - written or otherwise. We strongly recommend an OSHA consultation first. Their job is to help with compliance and safety.”
Also present at the meeting were Dean Poelman and Princey Henderson with Exel, Andi Box and Michael Staggs with Lund, Cedric Divine with the U.S. Department of Labor, and Eddie Wood with Northwest Community College.
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