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Weber edp News

September 9, 2014

Northern Utah Workforce Alliance-Employer Symposium

OGDEN — Educators, business leaders and workforce service personnel gathered this week to discuss ways to meet the needs of Utah employers by providing skilled employees.

One way to meet those needs, is through the National Career Readiness Certificate, an assessment based credential that gives employers and job seekers a uniform method to measure necessary workplace skills. American College Testing developed the certificate, which it said can be used in closing the skills gap.

“Closing the Skills Gap” was the topic of the Northern Utah Workforce Alliance employer symposium Tuesday at the Ogden-Weber Applied Technology College.

Weber Economic Development Director Douglas S. Larsen organized the event, in which a panel of business, state and county representatives explained how the National Career Readiness Certificate would benefit Utah employers and potential employees.

The program tests employees in basic skills such as reading for information, information gathering and applied mathematics. Employees are ranked from bronze to platinum based on their scores.

“We really are one of the trailblazing states,” said event moderator Beth Colosimo. Colosimo is the senior business development manager for EDCUtah. “We are one of the top five states in the country to adopt these initiatives.”

Because the National Association of Manufacturers and the National Center for Construction Education and Research have officially endorsed the certification program, the symposium focused on its benefits in manufacturing by ensuring employers hire workers with essential skills.

The Department of Workforce Service has made the program available to employers and job seekers throughout Northern Utah. The department prepaid 1,800 assessments in Davis and Weber County, as well as 900 in Box Elder and Cache County. “We’re here unified to help our employers with their needs,” said Sara Stoffers, workforce development specialist for Weber County.

In doing so, the Department of Workforce Services and the applied technology colleges are helping to fulfill their mandate to meet employer demands. “The issue that arose is that lots of employers say, ‘I can train them, but give me someone that wants to work and has the aptitude for it,’” Stoffers said.

Along with a brief explanation of how the certification worked by Fred McConnel, ACT economic development liaison, David Bryan, human resource manager at Pepperidge Farms, explained the National Career Readiness Certificate’s use in a manufacturing environment. “To be competitive,” Bryan said, “you need employees who can run more than the piece of equipment they belong to.” Through the certification program, Pepperidge Farm is able to utilize the skills and potential of their employees. If the certification becomes more widespread, job seekers will be able to use their rankings when applying to potential employers.

Additional panel members included Tami Goetz, Director of the STEM Action Center from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and Sandy Emile, president of Cache Chamber of Commerce.

The Northern Utah Workforce Initiative is a regional alliance of Economic and Workforce Development specialists comprised of the Weber Economic Development Partnership, Davis County Economic Development, Box-Elder Economic Development, Cache County Economic Development and the Utah Department of Workforce Services.

Santiago Becerra, a manager at Malnove in Clearfield, attended the symposium to learn what resources were available in the state to find qualified employees. “I’m fairly new to this state,” Becerra said. “It’s a learning process finding what tools are available in the state.”

After Tuesday’s event in Ogden, similar events will be held throughout the state as well.

Contact Jesus Lopez Jr. at 801-625-4239 or jlopez@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @jesuslopezSE and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/JesusLopezSE.