A Greenwood business owner had noticed that not all the applicants who wanted a job at her computer repair business had teamwork skills or knew the value of attendance at work.
For Regina Miller, owner of Geek in Pink, those skills are just as important as knowing how to repair a computer and help clients recover computer files.
“I can teach someone technical skills, I can’t teach soft skills,” she said. “By the time they get to the work place, I can’t teach the soft skills.”
The problem Miller has faced has been repeatedly echoed by businesses across the state, and finding a solution is the focus of a new work certificate program created by the state that local students began working to earn this year.
The Central Nine Career Center recently received a $40,000 grant from the Indiana Department of Workforce Development to help them roll out the Governor’s Work Ethic Certificate Program, called the IMPACT program. After they complete a statewide program, 180 students will have the soft skills, such as teamwork and punctuality, that employers around the state say have been lacking in the recent graduates who have entered the work force.
Central Nine Career Center has worked with an advisory council of educators and business owners to implement the program and to get it rolled out at other schools in Johnson County.
Students enrolled in the certificate program must demonstrate integrity, motivation, professionalism, adaptability, communication and teamwork. Completion of the program hinges on criteria that the state has identified, including punctuality and attendance, keeping a minimum grade-point average, working as a team and completing at least six hours of community service, said Bea Northcott, project implementation specialist at Central Nine. Attendance records and a lack of disciplinary issues at school can also be used to meet some of the criteria, she said.
“These are skills that employers want employees to have and to be able to demonstrate that they have those skills,” she said.
Students also work in the classroom on some of the skills needed to complete the program, such as writing resumes and cover letters, having class discussions and some group work, Northcott said.
The program was launched last year by the Indiana Department of Workforce Development after employers told them some of the state’s newest workers were missing the skills needed to do their jobs across most fields, she said.
A work ethic certificate would help employers know right away that a potential employee has demonstrated those skills, Miller said.
Now, administrators at Greenwood, Center Grove, Indian Creek, Franklin and Whiteland high schools are working with the advisory council to learn how to implement the program in their schools.
Each school is still working out the logistics of what the program would look like in their schools. For example, one question is whether a student would enroll at Central Nine or at their high school, said Todd Garrison, Greenwood Community High School principal and an advisory council member.
The program has clear positive aspects, such as community service hours, Garrison said.
Most of the skills that are addressed and taught through the program are already part of the curriculum at Central Nine, said Nicole Otte, director of the school. In most cases, students did not have to do a lot of extra work to complete the program.
“We know that we are already teaching some of those same skills as Central Nine. We can recognize students for that work,” Otte said.
Central Nine Career Center recently received a grant that is allowing them to participate in the Governor’s Worth Ethic Certificate Program.
Students enrolled in the certificate program must demonstrate integrity, motivation, professionalism, adaptability, communication and teamwork.
The program is currently at Central Nine Career Center, but will roll out to all of the schools the center serves.