WorkKeys gave Sherrie Gibson her life back. Laid off, Gibson was forced to turn to welfare after her unemployment benefits ran out. Six weeks later, she was back on her feet, with a good-paying job.
WorkKeys helped Sherrie Gibson get her life back on track with a job she loves at Express-1 in Buchanan, Michigan.
Things started to change for Gibson when she went to the Michigan Works! agency in Benton Harbor, Michigan, where she lives.
With a scholarship from Michigan Works!, she enrolled in a call center training program provided by Lake Michigan College. She took the WorkKeys assessments, originally preparing for a job at a call center. She scored well on both Locating Information and Applied Mathematics.
I was very nervous about taking WorkKeys, because I had been out of school for more than 20 years, said Gibson, who graduated from Benton Harbor High School in 1984. The tests were challenging, and yet they were easier than I expected them to be.
Her high scores on the WorkKeys assessments landed her a permanent position as a customer service representative with Express-1. This is an expedited ground transportation company that serves thousands of customers all over the United States, Canada, and Mexico. It employs more than 150 full-time people at its headquarters in Buchanan, Michigan, and its other Midwest locations.
Debbie Gillespie, training coordinator, Community and Business Services, Lake Michigan College
Express-1 uses WorkKeys when hiring staff for our internal sales department, where Sherrie works. We have found it very predictive of employee success, said Pamela Timm, business development manager, Express-1. The use of WorkKeys is supported throughout our organization.
Gibsons job involves booking orders for the company. I love my new job. It feels good to be where I am, said Gibson.
Her new position is also better suited to her stage in life. She had previously worked as an inspector in a foundry. Im no longer killing myself to earn a living. I needed to find a job that fit my age range. I was getting too old to work in the foundry, she said.
Her success with WorkKeys has inspired Gibson to consider enrolling in college. Shed like to advance in her new field through courses in logistics.
Gibson first heard about WorkKeys from Debbie Gillespie, training coordinator for Community and Business Services (CBS) at Lake Michigan College in Benton Harbor. Gillespie talked to Gibsons call center class about WorkKeys, noting that many Michigan companies now request or require that job applicants take the WorkKeys assessments.
Gillespie said Gibsons success is remarkable. I was really impressed with Sherries determination and ambition. She wanted to improve her life, and participating in the call center training program helped her focus on what she wanted to do, said Gillespie. Scoring well on WorkKeys gave Sherrie the edge to get the job she wanted.
CBS has been providing WorkKeys assessments since 2000. Gillespie came on board in 2001 and became the WorkKeys facilitator a year later. She has proctored the assessments for local employers that use them as hiring and promotion tools. She has also proctored the assessments for graduating high school seniors who qualify for the Michigan Merit or Promise awards and for paraprofessionals/teachers aides seeking compliance with the No Child Left Behind Act.
Gillespie has worked with various Michigan Works! staff on projects and serves on two of their Michigan Regional Skills Alliances advisory boards.
Sherrie Gibson, customer service representative, Express-1
Lake Michigan College has a very solid relationship with our local Michigan Works! office, said Gillespie. She added that the Michigan Works! office is interested in adopting WorkKeys at its site and may begin administering assessments.
In addition, the college is revising six new and existing programs that are part of its Workforce Training Institute to include the WorkKeys assessments that are needed for the career readiness certificate. The programs are hospitality training, industrial maintenance training, welding fundamentals certificate, call center training, certified bookkeeping, and medical coding. Participants who successfully complete these programs earn a certificate from CBS/Lake Michigan College.
Gillespie is excited about furthering the WorkKeys mission in her part of the state. She is currently working with Bill Guest, the WorkKeys innovation champion for the West Michigan Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development (WIRED) initiative, and with ACT staff to educate area employers about WorkKeys.
There is growing interest in WorkKeys in our area as companies see the benefitsreduced turnover, improved productivity, and a better-trained workforce. I think as the word gets out about how WorkKeys can have a positive effect on a companys current and future workforce, more and more companies will come on board, she said.