Logan County works to retain local graduates

The Logan County Workforce Taskforce was formed last year to address problems with sustaining business in the county. Its members include the Logan County Chamber of Commerce, local education leaders and a handful of businesses from the community.

“The biggest challenge is that our young people are leaving our community after they graduate,” Logan County Chamber of Commerce President Paul Benedetti said.

One idea to come out of the group is a credentialing program for high school seniors. The 10-step program gives students the opportunity to learn basic professional skills that employers are seeking.

“Filling out applications, preparing themselves for interviews, learning information about the company before they go to an interview,” Benedetti said.

Students will also be asked to submit to a drug test and background check, he said, to prepare them for the job application process.

“We are looking to make them aware of all of the job opportunities, career opportunities, right here in their own back yard,” he said.

There’s a shortage of about 200 employees needed to fill existing positions in the county, Benedetti said.

About 60 percent of Logan County high school graduates don’t pursue a college education, he said. Many of the available jobs require only a high school diploma.

“There’s a lot of stuff you can do in the medical field,” said Brian Zak, human resources generalist at Mary Rutan Hospital. “Some of it directly related to patients. Some of it behind the scenes.”

Zak interviews people for positions at the hospital daily.

“We probably have close to 20 openings right now,” he said.

The skills learned in the credentialing program will help students to make a good impression, he said.

“It’s all about the impression, and it’s the little things that really count,” he said.

The program is online and students were given the option to start at the beginning of the school year, Logan County Chamber Vice President of Operations Erin Henry said. Now, the chamber of commerce is working to keep track of how many students complete the program, she said.

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