Partnering to create good workers
TOWN OF ROCK The three R’s of education traditionally have referred to reading, writing and arithmetic.
For a changing world, businesses and schools are adding three more R’s—rethinking, recreating and returning—to their formulas.
On Friday, more than 80 business people, educators and officials from Blackhawk Technical College gathered at the college for the second Business Education Summit.
The group gathered to discuss the practical developments and theoretical possibilities for improving the workforce.
Here’s one of the first things business leaders learned Friday: Since last year’s summit, BTC has reconsidered their expectations for students and re-created some of its curriculum to address business leaders’ concerns.
Blackhawk welding instructors explained how they are using being on time for class—and class attendance—to show students what would be expected in the workplace.
John Norland, communications instructor, said teachers have created a detailed rubric to teach interviewing and resume-writing skills.
“Part of my job is convincing a student that what I’m teaching them is important,” Norland said. “A lot of students think, ‘If the weld is good, that’s it, I’ve done my job.’”
He tries to help students understand the employer’s perspective. The employer is going to invest a significant amount of money in a new employee and wants not only a good welder but also someone who can solve problems, work on a team and arrive on time every day.
And even a great welder won’t get an interview if his resume is riddled with spelling errors.
Susan Dantuma, a youth apprenticeship specialist for Blackhawk, talked about a program that takes motivated high school students and places them into jobs where they can learn career skills. Businesses have included Scot Forge in Clinton, medical centers and chambers of commerce.
Dantuma stressed that these are not work-study programs, where students are paid for clerical work. These are jobs that will lead to jobs with good wages and career advancement.
The employers assume a significant amount of responsibility—they provide mentors for the students, teach them skills and complete progress assessments.
In return, employers get workers who are eager to learn and want to work. In many cases, the training results in long-term employment for the students.
Apprenticeships and other kinds of employer-employee training used to be a common part of work culture.
Theresa Carroll, senior branch manager for Manpower, said that in the 1960s and 1970s employers hired people who they thought would be there for a long time. They invested time training newcomers in the culture of the workplace and in their specific jobs.
“Now, we expect someone to come through the door with all the skills and the talent we need,” Carroll said. “That’s not going to happen.”
Manpower has developed a system called “Teachable Fit” that encourages employers to look for both “capabilities” and “capacities.” What skills do applicants have and what skills can they learn?
As the “skills mismatch” grows between what employers need—and the talents job seekers have—using the teachable fit method will become more important, she said.