Todays employers are taking a different approach to ensure they hire, train, and promote the right employees. Instead of relying completely on resumes or job applications, they are discovering that WorkKeys scores and a career readiness certificate confirming a persons level of achievement provide more meaningful information.
Take the Campbell Soup Company plant in Maxton, North Carolina, where approximately six million cans of soup are made every day. Continually faced with the challenge of receiving hundreds of applications for only a handful of openings, the company sought a better way to accurately measure an applicants work skills.
Cathy Poole (standing at right), human resources generalist at the Campbell Soup Company plant in Maxton, North Carolina, leads a discussion about WorkKeys with current employees.
Wed get all these applications and didnt know how wed get through them. And when we did bring someone in, theyd interview well but we still wouldnt have any indication of their skills in reading or locating information or math, said Cathy Poole, human resources generalist for the Maxton plant. We really needed something that would help us find the right person for the job.
Pamela Gobel, director of Career Readiness Certification, Economic and Workforce Development, North Carolina Community College System
The company faced a similar problem promoting incumbent workers. Wed promote someone, only later to discover that the person didnt meet the qualifications for the job. So wed waste time training them or moving them back to their previous position. We needed a good way to measure current employees skills, too, and to make sure we were promoting the right person to the right job, she added.
Company officials also wanted to plan better for the future, so when they had an opening, they would have a pool of available candidates ready to go to work. In essence, Campbell Soup wanted to grow its own, said Pamela Gobel, director of Career Readiness Certification, Economic and Workforce Development for the North Carolina Community College System. Campbell Soup wants local residents and area high school students to be prepared to be successful employees at their plant, she said.
Plant officials turned to WorkKeys and two nearby community colleges for help with all these goals. Robeson Community College is the primary provider of WorkKeys for the Campbell Soup plant. The college has received funding from a state grant to become a North Carolina career readiness certification site. Fifty-one of the states 58 community colleges are currently certification sites.
Campbell Soup now requires job candidates to take WorkKeys and earn a career readiness certificate before applying at the plant. They must achieve skill levels specified in the job profile for the position for which they are applying. If they dont, the college offers access to labs supplied with KeyTrain®, a system designed to help people improve the basic skills measured by WorkKeys.
Richmond Community College has led an effort to provide WorkKeys assessments to seniors at nearby Scotland High School. The school requires all seniors to take WorkKeys and earn a career readiness certificate before they graduate.
These students are now prepared to enter the workforce at Campbell Soup right after graduation, said Gobel. On the flip side, Campbell Soup has a larger and more well-prepared pool of potential employeesarea high school studentsbased upon the skill levels established with their WorkKeys profiles.
Greg Cummings, economic development director, Robeson County Economic Development Commission
Area public schools and a local hospital also send job candidates to Robeson Community College for the WorkKeys assessments. The schools test teacher assistants and the hospital tests nursing assistants.
WorkKeys is a great program for our county, said Angela Locklear, human resources development coordinator at Robeson Community College. Weve had many area businesses and industries closing. We wanted a way to ensure that we would have a trainable workforce in place to recruit new companies to our area and to make sure our people are ready to go to work when those companies arrive.
Greg Cummings, economic development director for the Robeson County Economic Development Commission, agrees. Its one thing to offer the location, land, and buildings. But the major concern of companies coming into our area is whether there is a strong workforce within a 40-mile radius, he said. We consider the career readiness certificate to be a work-ready program. This means that human resources people dont have to investigate to see if someone is a good candidate for a job. The certificate provides evidence that a candidate is ready to go to work.
Overall, WorkKeys and the career readiness certificate have been good for North Carolina, said Gobel. As we enter into discussions with prospective employers, it is always a plus when they realize we rely on WorkKeys and the state readiness certificate. They know we can reduce the time necessary to staff their facilities with our work-ready workforce. We are providing people who are considered highly qualified in the workplace skills that every employer needs.