About a half-dozen years ago, central Louisiana-based Gilchrist Construction Company (GCC) had a problem. The heavy highway and industrial work contractor was experiencing a nearly 100% turnover in its workforce, meaning its significant investment in employee education was going right out the door.
GCC knew it had to transform its hiring practices to attract—and retain—workers who were willing and able to learn. For help, the organization turned to the Cenla Work Ready Network, a program of The Orchard Foundation, funded by The Rapides Foundation.
In 2008, as a board member for The Rapides Foundation, GCC President and CEO Randy Gilchrist learned about the ACT WorkKeys® assessments and the ACT National Career Readiness Certificate™ (ACT NCRC™). He asked GCC’s chief resource officer Valerie Aymond to investigate how these tools might help GCC address its issues. Aymond did more than gather information—she took the ACT WorkKeys foundational skills assessments. She was convinced. “This is the only proven system that links job skills to workplace success. That got my attention and was a major driver behind our decision to launch a full implementation, including job profiling, assessments, and certification.”
At no cost to them or their schools, area high school students access ACT Career Ready 101™ online training modules to prepare for and take ACT WorkKeys assessments to earn the ACT NCRC. Similarly, at no cost to individuals or employers, adults can do the same through community colleges and career solutions centers.
GCC was one of the first employers on board when the Cenla Work Ready Network was launched in January 2011. Among the individuals hired who took the assessments, GCC had a 75% retention rate in the first 12 months.
“That’s phenomenal for our industry,” Aymond said.
GCC has seen the quality of hires improve and the return on investment for training increase. It’s even experienced a 59% drop in safety incidents.
“We now use these tools across the board for all external hires as well as for internal promotions,” Aymond said. “That means every location, every position, without exception.”
Along with GCC, more than 25 area employers recognize the ACT NCRC from applicants and employees.
Marjorie Taylor, executive director of The Orchard Foundation, said, “Employers are gradually catching on that this documentation has value in establishing the workplace skill levels of candidates, and that helps students see the value as well when an employer asks them for their certificate.”
For More Information
Visit http://www.act.org/workforce/case/gilchrist.html to read the complete Gilchrist Construction Company case study.