An article by By Dr. Sean Siebert, creator, Adopt an Innovator Program and member of the Missouri Enterprise Board of Directors
Workforce, workforce, workforce. Society’s migraine? Workforce. Where can we find people, good people, qualified people, reliable people for our jobs? Unfortunately, as a country, our workforce issues have been nearly forty years in the making. From a community perspective, to think that this matter can be resolved within ninety days is simply not rational. But, I do believe it can be addressed and show substantial progress within the next three years. To do this, we have to think differently. As I am quick to tell people, “Our processes are not organic. Getting the right people, with the right skills and education, in the right jobs, is strategic, not organic.”
If a company within your community states that they need one hundred fifty people. Guess what? That means that they need one hundred fifty REAL people. It’s not like a ‘herd’ will suddenly emerge and we all go, “Oh, there they are. We’re all good now. Thanks!” Your need for good people is very real. And if you need one hundred fifty people, then you have to find one hundred fifty people, one person at-a-time. Whether you need one person, or five or twenty, the same principal applies, one person at a time. That’s how you begin to solve the workforce issue in your community, and to start, you need to improve how well you know the people in your community. And by people, I mean all of them. Every person, at every level. By opening your eyes to outside the box concepts, seeing a broader picture, you’ll create the deepest pool possible for your potential workforce.
This ideology and framework afforded me the opportunity to have multiple conversations throughout the County of Crawford and the Meramec Region about the transitional workforce within the area. Specifically: Who are they? Where are they? And how can we re-introduce them to the workforce? During these discussions, residents (inmates) of jail and prison facilities were discussed on multiple occasions. The idea was brought up to have these individuals take the ACT WorkKeys assessment, so they might attain a National Career Readiness Certificate® (NCRC®). To earn NCRC® certification, an individual must successfully complete the WorkKeys assessments in Applied Math, Graphic Literacy and Workplace Documents.
Then, the idea surfaced. What if instead of testing them only, we took the time to encourage them? I asked, “What if they took one of my programs, and as a component of the program, they take the WorkKeys assessment?” My programs have a proven track record helping people to find a new career, to start a new company, to expand an existing business, to perform better at their current position, to problem-solve current organizational issues, to create more personal income, and to find a better place in life. “Let’s try it in this setting,” I suggested. And, so we did.