December 14, 2012

Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce, South Central Workforce Investment Board and Halifax Regional Health System, as well as many other representatives from companies all over Southside Virginia, met Friday morning to discuss Tomorrow’s Workforce Now and its role in regional jobs.


Representatives met at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research to discuss the role of educating employees to help build stronger workforces. Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade Mary Rae Carter said focusing on schools and making students aware of training, vocational programs and career paths are a good way to enhance the workforce.


 Debra Lyons, a representative from ACT, discussed the work readiness system and workplace skills that are necessary for a job. Lyons said that the workplace readiness system — a National Career Readiness Certificate that identifies an individual’s WorkKeys skills — would allow individuals to prove they have the skills they need to do their job.

In order to teach those skills and teach people what it means to be a skilled worker, Lyons stressed the importance of finding a way to teach those skill sets and grow that talent pool that can go anywhere they are needed.


“It’s so important for an individual to understand what it means to be a skilled worker,” Lyons said. “If the person who has to get the skill levels to do those jobs doesn’t understand what it means to be a skilled worker, closing that gap will be harder.”


Patti Deitos, a representative from Military2Manufacturing and Military2Medicine, put Carter and Lyons’ presentations into perspective as an employer. In 2005, prior to starting the WorkKeys skill set, her turnover rate was more than 50 percent. Most of the employees were not completing their 90-day orientation because they did not have the skill set to do so.


Deitos said the WorkKeys initiative was started in June 2009, and by 2010 the turnover rate had dropped to less than 15 percent. Deitos said training workers saved the organization about $1.2 million and also produced workers who were better trained and qualified to do their job, which helped overall morale and productivity.


By Allison Roberts Work It, SoVa