Keeping Required Skills Up-to-Date

The Organization:

ConvaTec, a Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, Greensboro, NC

The Challenge:

Re-assessing the skills needed in positions that are constantly changing

The Solution:

The WorkKeys system, delivered by Davidson County Community College

The Results:

A method for hiring highly qualified employees that is compliant with
employment law


ConvaTec is a leading manufacturer of ostomy and skin-care products. The company has used the WorkKeys system since the mid-1990s to hire and develop employees who can operate the increasingly sophisticated technology needed to run the company. As of 2003, virtually all of its employees have been hired or trained using the WorkKeys system.

In 2001, the need arose for a massive hiring in skilled positions. Already possessing five-year-old WorkKeys job profiles on those positions, the company wondered whether the skill levels still reflected what was needed to run newer technology.


Upgraded technology means that jobs have to change with the times. ConvaTec needed a way to ensure that both new hires and current employees had the skills required to perform jobs that are constantly evolving. "We use greater technology and robotics, and there is no time to train them on the basic, foundational skills needed to operate the equipment," said Jerry Carmichael, human resources director at ConvaTec. "If employees don't have the basic skill sets, how will the job evolve?"


ConvaTec worked with Davidson County Community College, its local WorkKeys Value-Added Reseller. The college performed new job profiles for 15 of ConvaTec's technician positions, including those in maintenance, production, quality, and warehouse areas.

With updated job profiles in place, the company used the new skill levels to hire dozens of qualified technicians. Before the interview process started, ConvaTec cut the number of applicants in half using applicants' scores from four WorkKeys skills assessments. "WorkKeys helped us tremendously in whittling down a very large applicant pool," Carmichael said.

Already-employed technicians also take WorkKeys assessments to measure their skill levels. Davidson provides WorkKeys-specific training from KeyTrain that aids ConvaTec employees in raising their WorkKeys scores. Through Davidson County Community College, technicians are able to keep their skills sharp.


Using the WorkKeys system provided benefits for employees and for the company:

  • The company hires better-qualified employees.
  • Having passed the intensive hiring process of application, assessment and interviewing, employee morale rises. "The process lets the best of the best rise to the occasion, and they know that," Carmichael said.
  • WorkKeys helps the company comply with legal hiring standards. In 2001, a routine government audit of the company's hiring practices showed that ConvaTec complies with Department of Labor standards in relation to adverse impact.
"We're a high-demand company, and we demand a lot of our employees. That's more important than ever in a global economy. It's not OK to park your brain at the door when you go to work. There must be an active effort to keep skills up. The people we hire and develop using WorkKeys are not only capable but willing to be a part of that effort." Jerry Carmichael, human resources director, ConvaTec