ACT Work Ready Community
Springfield is Becoming a ACT Work-Ready Community
Springfield has earned the official designation of being an ACT Work-Ready Community. This initiative and designation will benefit the entire community. Job seekers, as well as recent graduates, will have a better understanding of their strengths and abilities and how they translate to today’s economy. They will be able to acquire a portable certificate from ACT showing their cognitive abilities that can be used during interviews with prospective employers. This will allow employers to better gauge who is suited for open positions, as well as offer quicker upward mobility, based on the results of the Workkeys. The program is already working since many employers have reported reduced turnover as the result of having the right people in the right jobs.
We asked Amy Donahoe, Director of Workforce Development for the Chamber of Greater Springfield (OH), to answer a few questions about the ACT Work-Ready initiative and the history of why it came to Springfield.
Q: What was the inspiration for the initiative?
A: This initiative was an idea that came out of our Jobs & Job Readiness meetings. This is a group of businesses and organizations whose focus is economic development, workforce, and the education community. We researched the success in other states and communities and realized that it was time for us to move forward as well. Workforce readiness is very important to area businesses, and we believe this will be a great way to demonstrate our strength.
Q: Why has it been launched in Springfield?
A: It is important to stay competitive and be a leader in the realm of workforce. If we can show businesses that we can offer them a competitive, “ready to learn” workforce, it could encourage them to grow and/or locate expansions in our region. The economic vitality of our region is dependent upon a qualified workforce.
Q: What has the process been from idea to implementation?
A: It was important to have everyone on board with this idea. It is not something that you just decide to do and operate in a silo. Once we got the go ahead to proceed from the Jobs/Job Readiness Taskforce, we submitted an application to ACT. Once we were accepted, three partners designated a representative to send to the ACT Academy. This was a one-year process entailing four 2-day meetings. Our representatives were from the Chamber, OhioMeansJobs-Clark County and Clark State Community College. Here, we were prepared on what it takes to successfully roll out the program to the community. We better understood what barriers we might face and who we had to have at the table. Other communities shared best practices and we were armed with great resources.
Q: Who spearheaded this initiative?
A: This was a community initiative. Our Jobs and Job Readiness committee decided to move forward with this process. Workforce Development, Training and Economic Development all agreed to send a representative to the ACT Academy. Lehan Peters with OMJ-CC, and Toni Overholser with Clark State and I (representing the Chamber and Economic Development) all attended the four Academy sessions to learn how to roll this out and understand what other communities are doing to be successful. Eventually, we would love to make this a regional initiative for Ohio.
Q: Tell us about the implementation of the program.
A: We are the 4th county in Ohio who has chosen to go this route and are still in the early stages of implementation. Ultimately, we do not want to lose our talent to other states. We need to continue to be innovative and show value in our talent so this is an ongoing priority.
Q: What information do you want to share with the community?
A: We have local testing sites at OMJ-CC and Clark State. This could give job seekers an advantage when applying for job openings if their scores meet the requirements of the posted job opening. If someone tests low, free training is available online, and he or she can retest. This creates an excellent opportunity for job seekers to identify what skills they need to be competitive and then to receive the necessary training on site. Employers are always looking for ways to save money. Hiring the right person the first time will reduce turnover, thus saving dollars for the company (Time and Money).
We appreciated the opportunity to speak with Amy Donahoe about the Act Work-Ready Community initiative and welcome others to explore this initiative further by reading stories on www.workreadycommunities.org. Anyone who has further questions can contact her directly by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.