Gone are the days when employers could post help wanted signs and get qualified applicants. Today, they are turning to career pathways and certification programs that prepare workers with the skills they need.
Audience members listen to a presentation.
When I started in the utilities field 30 years ago, we selected the best candidates from those who lined up to apply. We trained them, and they stayed with us for their entire career. Now those people are retiring, and were actively working to replace them, said Ann Randazzo, executive director, Center for Energy Workforce Development (CEWD).
Randazzo was one of the panelists who spoke on Advancing Our Workforce Through Career Pathways at the ACT Workforce 2011: National Workforce Development Conference in Chicago. The panelists, who represented ACTs three industry partnersCEWD, the National Association of Manufacturers/The Manufacturing Institute (Institute), and the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER)explained what their organizations are doing to help close Americas skills gap.
Kelly Zelesnik and Annette McIver from Lorain County Community College in Elyria, Ohio, discuss the institutions work with the National Association of Manufacturers and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to provide opportunities for workers.
Through a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, CEWD is piloting a program to prepare low-income young adults in eight states for energy industry careers. ACT WorkKeys® assessments and the National Career Readiness Certificate are part of CEWDs Get into Energy career pathways program for skilled technician positions. The organization is developing similar programs for military veterans and women.
Our goal is to build a diverse pool of potential workers who have the right knowledge and skills to enter critical positions at exactly the point we need to hire them, said Randazzo.
The Manufacturing Institute is partnering with ACT on the NAM-Endorsed Manufacturing Skills Certification System to increase the number of qualified workers ready to compete in the twenty-first century manufacturing economy. The system includes the National Career Readiness Certificate. In June, President Obama announced an initiative to add a half million new workers with needed manufacturing skills to the nations workforce in the next five years, using this Manufacturing Skills Certification System.
Lenora Knapp, president, Knapp & Associates International, Inc., discusses the components of credentialing programs.
We have many workforce challenges we need to address in this country, and now is the time to stop focusing on the problems and start focusing on the solutions, so we can better serve workers and our nation, said Jennifer McNelly, senior vice president, The Manufacturing Institute.
She praised the efforts of sector colleagues like CEWD and NCCER for working to create career pathways. The beauty of the pathways is that workers can move seamlessly through them. For example, a worker who starts in an energy program with CEWD and decides he or she really likes to make things has a pathway to the Institutes programs.
NCCER is issuing National Career Readiness Certificates to current and prospective construction industry employees to document their foundational skills and to provide an entry into further training. NCCER is piloting a new system to deliver certificates via its network.
Collaboration between industry and education is vital if we are going to prepare our young people for the future workforce, said Steve Greene, vice president, NCCER.
Companies must bring out the best in their employees in order to offer the best experience to their customers.
Tom Karel and his colleagues at Saint Marys Health Care in Grand Rapids, Michigan, are striving toward that goal.
We want to create an extraordinary work experience that inspires our associates to provide an extraordinary care experience for our patients, said Karel, vice president of Organization and Talent Effectiveness (OTE).
Karel, who was a keynote speaker at the Workforce 2011 conference, is impacting workforce issues on three levels: locally at Saint Marys, system-wide at Trinity Health, and regionally in West Michigan. He is a founding member and chair of the Health Care Employer Council, a West Michiganbased group of industry leaders working to create a pipeline of qualified, competent, and compassionate health care workers to meet the needs of the region for the next 15 years.
He and his staff have started a pilot project that uses three WorkKeys foundational assessmentsApplied Mathematics, Locating Information, and Reading for Informationas well as ACTs Soft Skills AssessmentsFit, Performance, and Talent. They will initially assess applicants and plan to eventually integrate the use of the assessments to all employees across the Trinity Health system. The assessments are part of the Trinity Health West Michigans Evidence-Based Selection System being implemented for the hiring and development of talent.
Im convinced that there is no better system in the United States that tests cognitive abilities and soft skills the way WorkKeys does. In my 30 years in the health care field, Ive never seen a system that is as comprehensive and effective and has the return on investment case built in, so it can be quickly implemented and begin to produce results, he said.