The Washington County Career Center's work isn't limited to equipping high school students and adults in the region for the workplace.
The center teams with businesses to teach the skills they need to prospective employees and also serves them in other ways, like providing pre-employment testing. And not all of their clients for the latter service are in the immediate area.
Sherri Becker has worked at the center for 12 years in human resources development, consulting with companies to provide customized testing for potential employees. She works with American College Testing (ACT) as a Work Keys job profiler, utilizing a system that's recognized nationwide.
Work with businesses in the region such as Thermo Fisher Scientific and Solvay Specialty Polymers has opened doors for the center to provide Work Keys assessments to affiliated companies in states like Texas and North Carolina.
"The successes that our local companies have had have created an opportunity for us to reach out to other states and provide the services," Becker said.
Question: What are your responsibilities at the Career Center?
Family: Husband, Greg; daughter, Teri Gray; son, Brian.
Occupation: Human resources development.
Answer: My purpose here - of course we all work to support the students and the programs here at the school - but I work with companies in methods to hire and develop their employees in order to ensure that they will be successful on the job. I guess a bottom line thing would be to help find the most effective employee. We try to reduce accidents so it increases safety, it increases employee retention, it reduces loss for employers ... through, like, scrap and product ... mistakes, errors.
Q: When did the career center first start working with companies outside the immediate area?
A: It's probably been three or four years ago that we started. Our facility is listed ... with a job profiler service available nationwide.
Q: How much of your work with these out-of-state companies is online, and how much involves travel?
A: The initial phase is to determine skills and competency requirements. Of course, that involves on-site. Then the implementation of the actual assessments can be done locally or online, but everything's done through us.
Q: How often are you working with these companies?
A: They do assessments and testing on a daily basis.
Q: Do you expect to do more of this as technology evolves?
A: As hiring needs and replacement needs due to retirements and that type of thing begin ... we're looking for that to become a major focus in the near future.
(Work Keys) already is a national method of screening for the competencies that are needed for effective workers. ... It is a (assessment). Even with our local company we've had people from out of state say, "Hey, I want to try for that job." And I locate their local Work Keys assessment center ... Then we contact the assessment center and tell them which assessment needs to be given. ... Nationally, it's taken hold, and it's really, really an effective method. And we've had local employers that have been very, very successful with it.
Evan Bevins conducted this interview.