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Ranked #8: Availability of Skilled Labor

The high ranking of the availability of skilled labor factor is confirmed by those firms taking advantage of programs pre-certifying workers' skills.

Aug/Sep 07
(page 2 of 2)
Helping Firms Relocate and Expand
Since WorkKeys is used widely across the country, it allows for interstate use by companies looking to relocate or expand. Some examples follow:

The Indiana Department of Workforce Development has brought national industries to the Hoosier State for years through federally funded services available at its network of WorkOne employment centers. It offers pre-commitment packages for companies looking to relocate. This involves dispatching a job profiler to an existing company plant, determining the skill level needed for specific jobs, and assessing and matching highly skilled residents to the jobs before the new Indiana plant has opened. One example is Autocar, which relocated to Hagerstown, Ind., while the state assisted with hiring and training more than 200 employees. The plant became profitable 18 months after the relocation.

"We've been pretty aggressive in working with companies that are seeking to expand or locate in Indiana, offering a wide array of economic and work force development tools and services," said Andrew Penca, commissioner of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. "We have found that the WorkKeys system provides us with a very efficient and effective tool to assess a company's work force needs."

Likewise, the North Carolina Community College System has attracted industries to its region - and encouraged others to grow - via its New and Expanding Industry Program, which includes funding for the WorkKeys system. The state-funded program is designed to bring high-skill, high-wage jobs into the state using work force development services at each of the state's 58 community colleges.

In addition, the program offers skills training for North Carolina residents, helping them boost their skill levels and matching those needed by incoming industries. "We use WorkKeys as a funneling system to help new and expanding companies find the best skilled candidates from a large number of potential candidates," said Maureen Little, senior regional director with the North Carolina Community College System.

Another Example
High-technology companies such as PGT Industries have taken advantage of the New and Expanding Industry Program. In 2006, the manufacturer of impact-resistant windows and doors began working with the North Carolina Community College System while relocating to a larger facility in Salisbury, N.C., hiring new employees and promoting incumbents using the WorkKeys system. The company profiled four technician, shipping, and receiving jobs and used employee selection and skills training to fill positions, all utilizing the WorkKeys system.

"They rolled out the red carpet," said Stacy Smith, training generalist with PGT. "They offered pre-designed training packages, as well as customized training, and it's free training for us. If you have internal training programs, they'll reimburse you for that. And the caliber of individuals we've hired using the WorkKeys system is far higher than when we were without it."

PGT accepts Career Readiness certificates from job applicants when hiring and offers training for incumbent employees to receive a certificate. The process offers a morale booster for employees, while expediting the hiring and training processes. "With WorkKeys, every person we hire can easily grasp training concepts because they already have those base skills," Smith said.

The $370 million company plans to double its growth in the next five years, with more than 1,000 employees expected to work at its North Carolina facility. "WorkKeys will be an integral part of that step for all hiring and promotions," Smith said.

Companies' use of programs like WorkKeys and Career Readiness certificates is further evidence of the importance of the availability of skilled labor when making a relocation or expansion decision.

Note: ACT is an independent, not-for-profit organization that provides more than a hundred assessment, research, information, and program management services in the broad areas of education and work force development. Each year, ACT serves millions of people in elementary and secondary schools, colleges, professional associations, businesses, and government agencies, nationally and internationally. ACT has
offices across the United States and throughout the world.

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