OPINION

Story City companies/students come together to promote local careers

Staff Writer
Story City Herald
Story City companies/students come together to promote local careers

—by Todd Thorson

The Roland-Story High School and the Story City Chamber have teamed up together to form a program called “Promoting Story City Careers”, a collaborative effort that brings together and exposes the 11th grade students to the various manufacturing businesses in Story City, to see what kind of jobs and employment opportunities are available here in the local area. It is a forum for these local companies to interact with the students and to highlight the diverse careers available within our own Story City industries. It will also encourage local youth to consider the benefits associated with pursuing careers in these respective industries.

Recently, the students began their workplace tours and presentations with Bethany Life on October 24 and 25. Consisting of two parts, the program involves an in-school presentation, followed by actual on-site workplace tours of the various companies. Kari Matheason spoke to the students on Thursday, Oct. 24 in the high school auditorium, followed the next day by a visit and tour of Bethany Life’s facilities. Upcoming “Career Days” include American Packaging and Winfield Solutions on Nov. 18 and 19, followed by M.H. Eby and Ryerson’s on Feb. 4 and 5 and Generation Repair Services and Indoshell Precision on April 9-11.

Beginning with the in-school presentation, representatives from the participating businesses are given an opportunity to speak with groups of students about their respective organizations. The main purpose of these presentations is to provide students with a positive perspective on the diverse career opportunities available in Story City, to provide an overview of the skill sets/training required for these positions and to encourage students to consider the many advantages of entering a trade as an alternative to a four year education.

The following day or days participating businesses and school officials coordinate on-site facility tours for interested students to see the company’s operations and activities first hand. The purpose of the tours will be to present students with a first-hand look at the jobs being performed, the work environment, etc. Ideally, employees who actually perform the jobs will be made available to speak with students about their job content, the education and training required for the jobs, their experiences with the company and other pertinent information.

These presentations and tours take place during the required Job/Life class taught by Roland-Story teacher Kathy Hovick.

Making up the Story City Industry Workforce Action Team are: Jennifer Swenson, Story City GCC; Adam Anderson, M.H. Eby; Darren Westercamp, American Packaging; John Koppes, Indoshell Precision; Kari Matheason, Bethany Life; Kristin Born, Iowa Work Force; Lisa McIlrath, PDG Printing; Steve Gunnerson, Generation Repair Services; Steve Schlatter, R-S High School Principal; Terri Heisterkamp, R-S High School Guidance Counselor; Tony Hogan, Kreg Tool; Randy Gabriel, DMACC; and Jeff Janes, DMACC.

In March 2014 these juniors will be taking tests in the WorkKeys Assessment and Skilled Iowa Initiative program. Students, now more than ever, are strongly being encouraged to earn a National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) through this program associated with Iowa Workforce Development. The certificate is an evidence-based credential that measures essential workplace skills and serves as a reliable predictor of workplace success. Earning a NCRC will help prepare students for their future and serves as a reliable benchmark for employers.

Whether students decide to join the workforce directly out of high school or elect to earn technical or four-year degrees, the NCRC will provide them with a tangible credential and a positive beginning toward future success. Many high school students are not yet sure what they want to do with their future and what employment path to take. The NCRC can assist in that decision-making process, creating options and goals that students can use to make those often difficult decisions. At this point in their lives, these young people are not likely to have had much job experience, so they can rely on this certificate to help bring their qualifications in contact with employers who may value them.

The WorkKeys assessments are designed to test students’ knowledge of applied math, how to locate information and how to read that information in real-world work situations. Those who take the tests can earn four levels of certification based on their skill levels, as measured by the test. These levels are platinum, gold, silver and bronze. Those who take the tests also have the opportunity to brush up on their skills and work toward raising their scores in order to earn an even higher certification level.

The goal of the Skilled Iowa Initiative is to bridge the gap between worker capabilities and the required workplace proficiencies. This will aid the Iowa workforce to learn more about the specific needs of Iowa employers. Those who earn the NCRC will also help the state of Iowa guarantee it has the needed labor force to meet employers’ needs currently as well as into the future.

For more information about the NCRC program and the Skilled Iowa Initiative go to www.skilledIowa.org.

—information for this story was contributed by Terri Heisterkamp, R-S School Guidance Counselor, and Iowa Workforce Development