Representatives from several area companies, including Cobalt Medplans, Ward Kraft, Peerless, Mercy, Extrusions, Firstsource, Labconco and others, met at the Papa Don’s meeting room in downtown Fort Scott to discuss and exchange ideas related to employee retention and hiring.
Jolene Ray, Business Service Representative and John Tersinar, Operations Manager of Kansas Works in the Fort Scott area presented information on how to optimize searches for prospective employees. Within the Kansas Works system, as Ray demonstrated, an employer has the ability to search using several filters, including level of education, location and keyword. Ray encouraged employers to call Kansas Works and ask for employee referrals to save employers time in interviews. Ray said, “It is highly key to contact us and get a referral from us.” Ray mentioned that this strategy allows an employer to gather additional information about a prospective employee before holding an interview.
Tersinar addressed questions regarding the “On the Job Training” (OJT) program in which Kansas Works pays for a potential employee’s training, providing that individual is qualified for the program. Tersinar explained that Kansas Works “[buys] training from the company” instead of hiring an outside entity as a training provider. Tersinar also highlighted the agency’s success with employee placement. Tersinar said, “I think our success rate is high 80s to 90s in the past 3 years” regarding employee placement.
In addition, Ray and Tersinar presented an additional tool for employers’ use in searching for quality employees. Tersinar explained that Kansas Works offers a “Work Ready” certificate that is granted to employees who achieve a certain level of competency in basic math, reading and writing skills. “A lot of companies are seeing the value in the Work Keys and ‘Work Ready!’ Certificate,” Tersinar remarked. Ray noted that PITSCO, a company in Pittsburg, KS that creates education curricula, now uses the Work Ready! Certificate scores in order to screen applicants for their picker/packer positions. Ray said that the test is administered by ACT, and that a potential employee that scores a “Gold” on the test is likely an employee who is teachable.
Mike Jackman of Peerless Products, Inc. suggested that area employers make use of the Work Ready! certificate program. Jackman mentioned that using the certificate to look for quality employees might result in “higher retention rates” of employees for Fort Scott area companies.
Regarding attracting quality workers for area companies, Michael Bryant, Vice President of Operations at Cobalt Medplans said, “As a community, we’re going to have to get creative to keep growing,” and that the area is in need of a larger labor pool of skilled and educated workers in order to allow companies’ continued expansion.