2013-04-19 / Local News

Gaffney native shares formula for success

Ed Parris says WorkKeys links education and industry
By SCOTT POWELL Ledger Staff Writer spowell@gaffneyledger.com

Ed Parris has found the right formula for hiring workers to match the technical job skills often sought by companies used by his Phillips Staffing Company in Greenville.

Parris returned to his hometown in Gaffney on Thursday to share with area human resource officers how his company has used job profiling, WorkKeys tests and career readiness certificates to find good employees for companies. He spent his lunch hour at the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce for a presentation on how the WorkKeys test from the American College Test (ACT) can be used as a workforce and economic development tool.

“I felt that WorkKeys provided the best kind of common language between education and industry I’d seen,” Parris said. “It seemed that there has been a long-term struggle to get the education community to truly understand the workplace skills necessary in today’s manufacturing environment. WorkKeys really addresses that gap and helps both parties communicate about what skill levels are needed to be successful.”

More than 600,000 manufacturing jobs in the Southeast are going unfilled, with more than 50,000 vacancies in South Carolina, according to a 2012 National Skills Coalition Report by the Manufacturing Institute. Automation in manufacturing has transformed factories and changed the skills required to operate and maintain factory equipment.

Work Keys is a series of tests to provide employers with a standard way for identifying and evaluating whether workers have the skills required for specific jobs. The most common tests are Reading for Information, Applied Mathematics and Locating Information.

The national career readiness certificate issued by ACT is a portable, evidencebased credential that certifies an employee has the knowledge and job skills needed for workforce success.

Local residents can earn a platinum, gold, silver, or bronze certificate based on their WorkKeys score. People with a silver WorkKeys certificate are qualified for 67 percent of the 16,000 job profiles listed in the ACT database.

Parris learned about career readiness certificates as the local Workforce Investment Board chairman His experience as a recruiter for large tool manufacturer Singer amid the transition to automated manufacturing has taught him the importance of being able to evaluate employees’ job skills in a standard way.

For more info: www.scworkready.org.

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