NEWBERRY — The goal for the South Carolina Work Ready Communities group is to ensure the growth of South Carolina communities by creating an environment conducive to business workforce and economic development.
A Newberry County Workforce Solutions breakfast was held Thursday morning to discuss how the county could improve and prepare its students to not only enter higher education after graduation, but enter the ever-changing job market as well.
Mike Smith of Kiswire, who is a Work Ready Communities Champion, spoke along with Dr. Cynthia Pitts of the Upper Savannah Regional Education Center about the goals of Work Ready Communities and gave an overview of the WorkKeys assessment system.
Developed by ACT, a leader in educational assessment and work force development services, WorkKeys is a job skills assessment system that measures “real world” skills that employees believe are critical to success on the job. The system links education and workforce partners within a community.
The breakfast was a way for educators and employers in the community to see what Newberry County was already doing, and what they could do in the school systems, as well as on the job to make sure individuals are prepared for the future.
Buddy Livingston, director of the Newberry County Career Center as well as the chairman of Newberry County Council, spoke on behalf of the Newberry County School District Initiatives, as well as the economic development in Newberry County.
Livingston said the sole intent of the original Career Center was to work with students who chose the vocational track over the college preparation courses in school. Having expanded largely since then, the Newberry County Career Center is now preparing its students for jobs that do not exist on the market yet.
“It prepares the students so they have to be able to think,” Livingston said.
Livingston said it’s their goal to work with students to make them more successful in their futures. Once they earn their completer’s certificate for the Career Center, the back of the certificate contains major competency items that could be looked over by future employers.
“As someone whose job it is to prepare students for the workforce, I want to have plenty of quality employers for y’all,” Livingston said to the group.
The second speaker for the event was Debbie Walling, Human Resources Manager at Capsugel in Greenwood. Walling spoke with experience about the benefits of the WorkKeys system that Capsugel has noticed within their company even after only a short period of time.
Capsugel, a pharmaceutical manufacturer, currently has more than 600 full-time employees. Although having problems within the company with shortage of skilled labor, newly hired employees being unsuccessful and high turnover costs, they have found WorkKeys to be a very valuable solution to each problem.
Walling explained that after only a short period of time, they noticed reduced turnover, reduced amounts of employee training time, fewer production errors, and decreased time to competency. Although Walling said the price for incoming employee test could be expensive, the overall benefits were well worth it.
“We needed a toll that could tell us a new employee could be successful at a manufacturing job,” Walling said.
Over the past decade, ACT has completed WorkKeys job and occupational profiles for thousands of jobs across every employment field and has administered millions of WorkKeys assessments. The system is used by thousands of companies and schools across the United States and internationally.
For more information about this comprehensive job skill assessment system, call 1-800/WORKKEY (967-5539) or visit www.workkeys.com.