Employees of the former Electrolux plant in Webster City are beginning to look for work and the "Get Hire-Ability" employment workshop wants to assist them.
Catherine Bergman of Hamilton County SEED said she worked with Sue Schmitz of the Hamilton County Iowa State Extension office to plan the workshop.
"Folks that were laid off from Electrolux are getting to the end of their schooling, they're getting to the end of their unemployment and there are still some people that are unemployed," Bergman said. "We asked, 'What can we do to help them?'"
- Daily Freeman-Journal photo by Jim Krajewski
Brian Pibal, of IowaWorks, discussed the National Career Readiness Certificate Program with “Get Hire-Ability” workshop participants. The program, which scores proficiency in math, reading and locating information, is supported by 700 companies in Iowa.
Former Electorlux employee Kelly Ayers said she came to the workshop to get tips as she looks for a job. Ayers has been a full time student since being laid off and is graduating from Iowa Central Community College in May.
"What brought me here was the opportunity to talk to local employers to actually see what is available," Ayers said.
To help boost community members into the workforce, Bergman used several rooms at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church and brought several groups together to help host the Tuesday event. They included David Toyer of the Webster City economic development department, Cindy Schieber of Iowa Small Business Development Center, ICCC, Iowa Workforce Development and more.
The workshop focused on getting ready for an interview. Bergman said putting together a good resume, doing research on the company one is interviewing with and wearing appropriate attire are all ways prospective employees can get an edge in an interview.
Caroline Hicks of Swine Graphics Enterprises hosted mock interviews with workshop participants. She went over interview questions that she sees people struggle with. Those include, "Tell me a little about yourself," and "What are your strengths and weaknesses?" She said selling yourself on your strengths and showing how you struggle but overcome your weaknesses are very important. Hicks also said interviewees should stay positive.
"What I find is that people that have been out of the workforce for a long period of time, or if they had a bad experience before going into an interview tend to speak negatively about their prior employer. What I want to bring to the table is to turn that experience into a positive one," Hicks said.
Linda Williams, director of curriculum at Webster City High School, hosted personality profile sessions with participants. Williams identified strengths and weaknesses of participants, and grouped them into categories based on species of birds. The avian groups included doves, eagles, peacocks and more.
The workshop also hosted representatives for the National Career Readiness Certificate Program. Brian Pibal of IowaWorks said the program, issued by American College Testing, gauges the skills of potential employees. Three computerized tests score a person's skill in math, reading and locating information.
Certificates are awarded based on the level of one's proficiency. A platinum certificate is awarded to someone with skills for 99 percent of the jobs in ACT's database of occupational profiles. Gold, silver and bronze levels are awarded for 90, 65 and 35 percent respectively. Pibal said it is possible to take the test and not receive a certificate.
Pibal's goal is to increase the scores of those in Iowa. The program offers a training course called KeyTrain that is taken online. IowaWorks received a grant that funds the tests for participants and will do so again if the test is retaken. However, that is only if they have gone through the KeyTrain training. Pibal said there are 700 companies in Iowa that are encouraging applicants to take the test as part of the hiring process.
"When Governor Branstad wants to lure other businesses to come to Iowa, we can say 'Hey, look at our workforce. We've got all these people that already have been tested and here are their scores,'" Pibal said.
The workshop included several other one on one meetings and breakout sessions that focused on networking, starting a small business and resume refinement.