Clark County agencies look to identify more qualified workers for local jobs

Sept 10, 2018
Amy Donahoe, director of Workforce Development for the Chamber of Greater Springfield, left, and Toni Overholser, director of the Clark State Foundation, speak at the Springfield Rotary Club meeting Monday. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

A handful of Clark County entities are working to make local businesses more aware of a program designed to more easily identify qualified workers.

Several area agencies, including the Chamber of Greater Springfield, Clark State Community College and Ohio Means Jobs of Clark County, have been working for about a year to certify Clark County in an ACT Work Ready program, said Amy Donahoe, director of hiring and employer services for the Chamber of Greater Springfield.

Donahoe told members of Springfield’s Rotary Club Monday that Clark County is about halfway toward meeting its initial goal.

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The ACT WorkKeys assessment program provides workers with a portable credential that shows job candidates have the essential skills to be successful. The idea is to show employers that potential workers have the basic aptitude for math, reading comprehension and other skills that can translate to various jobs. For workers, the certification is a signal to employers that an employee has the basic comprehension skills needed for a particular job.

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Employees can earn certificates ranked from bronze to platinum to highlight skills in math, reading comprehension and locating information for example, said Toni Overholser, director of the Clark State Foundation. Employees with a gold certificate can demonstrate the basic skills needed to perform 93 percent of the jobs in the state’s OhioMeansJobs database, Overholser said.

“It shows if the person has the cognitive ability to do the job or learn new needed skills,” said Amy Donahoe, director of hiring and employer services for the Chamber of Greater Springfield.

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In Ohio, Preble and Lorain counties are certified as Work Ready communities. Clark and Lucas counties are working toward certification. Information from the ACT website shows Clark County is slightly more than halfway toward certification, and the county has about one more year to meet its goals. About 35 employers currently support the program, and the goal is 63.

Information at the Work Ready Communities website showed Clark County has attained 55 percent of its goal, and Donahoe said the deadline is October 2019.

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Once Clark County becomes certified, the goals are adjusted to ensure local officials continue developing the program and assessing local workers, Donahoe said.

The program is expected to allow businesses to streamline the hiring process by bypassing job applicants who can’t perform the work, Donahoe said. It provides an additional tool aside from an employee’s resume to allow a company to evaluate candidates.

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She said the chamber and its partners are working with local businesses to make them more aware of the program.

“A lot of it will be one-on-one conversations,” she said.