Program, Partnership Serve as State Model Seeking ‘Adams County Champion’
GETTYSBURG, PA (November 16, 2016) – Hailed as “one of the most significant and valuable programs we have ever provided to businesses,” Adams County Economic Development Corporation (ACEDC) President Robin Fitzpatrick encourages area business leaders to learn more about ACT WorkKeys, being implemented in partnership with HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College.
“Just as keys unlock doors, WorkKeys has the potential to open doors to a bright future for area students and residents obtaining platinum, gold, silver, and bronze keys,” Fitzpatrick said. “On the business side, employers implementing this groundbreaking program can more accurately locate and hire workers with the exact skill sets needed.”
“It is with great excitement that we announce the hiring of Business Outreach Specialist Marian Grenchik—to meet with area employers, to explain how the WorkKeys program will benefit their businesses—and in doing so, serve as a model for the state in partnership with HACC,” Fitzpatrick said.
The ACT National Career Readiness Certificate (ACT NCRC) and ACT WorkKeys program, established 30 years ago, is flourishing in many states across the nation. HACC implemented the program about a year ago at each of its five campuses—Gettysburg, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Lebanon, and York, by developing partnerships such as the one with ACEDC.
“It’s a model of efficiency… a way of cataloging a person’s skills,” said Vic Rodgers, Associate Provost for Workforce Development at HACC.
“It’s Dr. Ski’s vision (HACC President John J. “Ski” Sygielski, Ed.D.) to ask how we are serving our communities,” Rodgers said. “Dr. Ski is a visionary—he knows that when businesses do well, the entire community does well, providing job, taxes, stability. He wants to enhance that further with the WorkKeys program.”
Rodgers says partnering with economic development agencies such as ACEDC makes perfect sense because workforce development is becoming more and more intertwined with economic development initiatives. “Economic development agencies have used tax break incentives to relocate and attract businesses, but now businesses are more attracted to an area because of the workforce.”
“Here in Pennsylvania, for example, we have an aging workforce. We are faced with the challenge of replacing a highly skilled workforce that is aging out,” Rodgers said. “But WorkKeys gives us a wonderful platform to access and guide our workforce.”
HACC is part of a consortium of five Pennsylvania community colleges who are partnering with the Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce, Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges, and others to expand the WorkKeys program in the Commonwealth. Rodgers said the consortium is going on a speaking tour in 2017 to educate businesses how WorkKeys can enrich business communities.
Both Rodgers and HACC WorkKeys Coordinator Nattalie Castro previously worked with the WorkKeys program for the state of North Carolina, which is now one of the top states in terms of the number of WorkKeys certificates issued and the number of businesses using WorkKeys to identify skills and guide hiring.
“I’ve seen it work first-hand,” said Castro. “I have seen WorkKeys help small companies sustain business and I have seen large business transformed by it.”
“Every time I meet with businesses, I tell them… This is going to help you hire and retain the right employees, which ultimately saves you money. It will save training costs, it will save the time of your HR personnel, weed out some of the applicants who are not qualified, and will help you with turnover rates. In my experience, 80 percent of those hired through the WorkKeys program stay within that company,” said Castro.
The WorkKeys program measures students’ skills in three areas considered critical to career success—Applied Mathematics, Reading for Information, and Locating Information. Based on students’ scores, they attain the National Career Readiness Certificate bearing their scores in platinum, gold, silver, or bronze levels. ACT considers these certificates to be “portable credentials” currently recognized by 14,890 employers nationwide, as a way to verify work skills.
So far, Castro said 27,455 certificates have been issued in Pennsylvania, with 257 of them issued in Adams County. About 21 Central Pennsylvania businesses have embraced the WorkKeys program so far. Nationwide, more than 3.5 million people have earned their certificates to date; 14,890 employers have implemented the program.
“Our primary focus right now is to create awareness and spark interest, so that businesses can learn more and experience success, so the program can move forward,” Castro said. “We are looking for a champion—a business to champion the WorkKeys program—in each of our campus areas. I look forward to helping Marian identify our Adams County champion.”
To learn more about WorkKeys in Adams County, contact ACEDC Business Outreach Specialist Marian Grenchik at 717-334-0042.
To learn more about WorkKeys throughout central PA, contact HACC WorkKeys Coordinator Nattalie Castro at 717-736-4214.
ACEDC is a private, 501 (c)(6) not-for-profit organization incorporated in 1989 as a result of a task force initiated by Adams County business leaders. The corporation is governed by a board of director comprised of many local and regional community leaders from all sectors of industry. ACEDC’s mission is to improve the economy of Adams County while preserving and enhancing the quality of life by formulating, implementing and promoting economic development strategies for sustained investment and employment opportunities in Adams County. For more information, see acedc.org, follow us on Twitter (@AdamsCoEDC) and Facebook (Facebook.com/acedc.org).
HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, offers over 120 career and transfer associate degree, certificate and diploma programs to approximately 19,000 students. Also, the College serves students at its Gettysburg, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Lebanon and York campuses; through virtual learning; and via workforce development and continuing education training. For more information on how HACC is uniquely YOURS, visit hacc.edu. Also, follow us on Twitter (@HACC_info), like us on Facebook (Facebook.com/HACC64) and use #HACCNews.
MEDIA CONTACT: KAREN HENDRICKS, HENDRICKS COMMUNICATIONS, 717-253-3553