May 10, 2017
High school seniors throughout the Region will soon be graduating and heading out in search of degrees and/or work.
Their success will depend not only on what they learned in the classrooms, but also on their ability to show up as expected, on time, how well they manage their time and cooperate with others, according to Tammy Stump, senior workforce associate at the Center of Workforce Innovations.
Development of these so-called "soft skills" is the focus of a Work Ethic Certification Program that is underway or in development in more than 25 percent of the high schools across the Region, Stump said.
"Our goal to ensure that the students in Northwest Indiana are prepared for the transition from school to work or from school to school to work by providing the resources and tools needed to gain the skills required by employers," she said.
The Center of Workforce Innovations came to the list of targeted skills by surveying more than 100 employers about what they would like to see in potential employees, Stump said.
The schools implement the voluntary program throughout the school year in a variety of ways and targeting different grades, she said. The participating students are evaluated in the areas of attendance, tardiness, discipline and community service. The community service requirement involves six to 24 hours of volunteer time.
Students are further evaluated on their organizational skills, punctuality, respectfulness and ability to work as part of a team, Stump said.
While the schools and students have been hard at work on developing these skills, Stump said she and others have been working to build the number of employers supporting the efforts and agreeing to give interview priority to students who earn the work ethic certificate.
Employers are also being asked to hand out the certificates at the schools to illustrate their support, said Roy Vanderford, director of strategic solutions at the Center of Workforce Innovations.
In addition to the regional program, there is a statewide effort underway that aims to have the certificates signed by the governor to make them that much more valuable, he said.
High schools awarding certificates this school year include Chesterton, Hobart, Lake Central, LaPorte, Lowell, Michigan City, Valparaiso and Whiting and the AK Smith Area Career Center in LaPorte County.
High schools picking up the program next year include Boone Grove, Calumet New Tech, Crown Point, East Chicago Central, Hanover Central, Hebron, Kankakee Valley, Merrillville and Wheeler, and high schools and middle schools in Kouts, Morgan Township and Washington Township.
The READY NWI partnership supports the unique aspects of community, school, and student, and embraces a commitment to regional thinking and acting in order to ensure prosperity by meeting the skill and education needs of employers throughout Northwest Indiana.