It was an afternoon filled with pride as the first eight students of the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center’s Work Ready Foundations program accepted their stackable industry credentials and certificates of completion and participation. Malcolm Carrington, Jonathan Farmer, James Lloyd, Marque Medley, John Murphy, and Joshua Paynter successfully completed the pilot job readiness-training program. Antwaun Jones and Kadeem Walton received certificates of participation and multiple, stackable workplace credentials. Work Ready Foundations was initiated by SVHEC’s Workforce Services division, and endorsed by the Halifax County Chamber of Commerce’s Senior Executive Roundtable.
Program completers earned six college credits and eight industry credentials including the National Career Readiness Certificate, OSHA 10, Lean Principles, 5S, and Lean Principles. One participant, Marque Medley, also earned the Virginia Manufacturer’s Association Manufacturing Specialist Certification. In addition, a mini-job fair was held for program completers and all six who interviewed are anticipating job offers from one or more local employers. The human resources representatives from each company provided valuable feedback and interest levels for each student. At this time, one participant has already received a formal offer and is completing the hiring process with the anticipation of starting work within the next 2-3 weeks. Project coordinator, Sandra Conner, is working one-on-one with each program completer to follow-up and be placed with interested employers.
During the seven-week program participants attended class Monday-Friday for 11 ½ hours per week, and learned both technical and soft skills needed for entry-level success in today’s workplace. Classes covered technical skills including Introduction to Advanced Manufacturing Industry, Precision Measurement, and Mechanical Concepts, and soft skills including Job Search Strategies, CPR/First Aid, OSHA 10 Safety, and Lean Manufacturing.
Matt Leonard, Executive Director of the Halifax County Industrial Development Authority, was the ceremony’s guest speaker. “This program found two key groups, employers and potential employees, and put them together. You don’t see that often. Work Ready Foundations gives people the hard & soft skills they need to be successful in reaching their employers’ goals and their personal goals,” Leonard stated. He also noted that programs like Work Ready Foundations makes his job in recruiting and retaining business and industry to Halifax County much easier.
“The Work Ready Foundations program is an excellent example of collaboration,” said Halifax County Chamber of Commerce president Nancy Pool. “For years we have heard employers express the need for job seekers who are prepared to be trained for jobs and who understand the importance of work ethic. Dr. Nettie Simon-Owens and her team at the SVHEC took this seriously and created the WRF program to meet local employers needs. This program demonstrates the direct linkage between education/workforce development and jobs/economic development,” she said.
When asked about his experience in the program, Antwaun Jones stated, “I’ve learned a lot--it’s really been a growing experience for me. The program helped me find out what path I want to take in life. It also taught me the value of teamwork, family, and friends. I appreciate the way the staff and instructors took time to take us under their wing, and improve our lives.”
Fellow completer Marque Medley agreed stating, “It’s been a great experience. The program helped us develop ourselves for the future. By earning these certificates employers can trust that they’ll have an employee who’ll come in and do a good job.”
Workforce Services@SVHEC acknowledged Work Ready Foundations collaborators and partners, giving thanks to ABB, Annin, Cherokee Tobacco, Comfort Systems USA, Danville Community College, Dollar General Corporation, ECPI University, Faneuil, Halifax County Chamber of Commerce-Senior Executive Roundtable, Halifax County Industrial Development Authority, Huber Engineered Woods, Pacific Headwear, Presto Products, South Central Workforce Investment Board, Southside Virginia Community College,SVHEC, Telamon Corporation, Virginia Technical Institute, VA Workforce Connection Center, Virginia Tobacco Commission, and Dan River Region Collaborative.
Work Ready Foundations is a competency-based comprehensive training program designed to prepare program completers for entry-level positions with area employers. The program was created in response to the needs of local employers, and was endorsed by the Halifax County Chamber of Commerce’s Senior Executive Roundtable.