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New program to teach skills to job seekers

November 27, 2003|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -A consortium of Franklin County businesses is offering to teach job seekers the "soft skills" needed to get and keep jobs through a new program, Basic Employment and Skills Training (BEST).

"This program is not going to teach anybody to be a welder or a nurse," Franklin County Area Development Corp. President L. Michael Ross said Wednesday of the BEST program. Instead, employees of participating companies will instruct people in the basics of business communication, teamwork, personal development, health and safety and customer service.

"We're going to use the HR (human resources) people from the companies," said Dennis A. Travers, the coordinator of BEST. "They're going to give the practical approach to what we're teaching."

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Modeled after the York (Pa.) Employment Skills program, BEST is designed to provide companies with the workers they need in a tightening job market, Ross said.

"From an economic development standpoint ... we have identified work force development as the primary issue affecting our ability to grow and expand," Ross said.

Applications will be available Monday at the Franklin County CareerLink office on Norland Avenue, Ross said. The first class will begin Feb. 2, 2004, at the Franklin County Career and Technology Center.

Those accepted into the program will attend three-hour classes four nights a week for five weeks, a total of 60 hours, learning interview skills, time management, work ethics and the other skills for mostly entry-level positions. Applicants must be at least 18, but no high school diploma or GED is required.

Applicants will have to pass the state's Test of Adult Basic Education and demonstrate at least ninth-grade level skills in reading and math, Ross said. Wes Cool, the CareerLink director, said 38 percent of those who go to the center fail to pass the test.

Those who do not will be offered remedial assistance at CareerLink to improve reading and math skills, Ross said.

"We're looking at the hiring needs of each of the members of the consortium. We're looking for candidates that are trainable," said Tony Metz, director of human resources at T.B. Woods in Chambersburg. Signing up for BEST, however, is no guarantee of a job, he said.

Other businesses in the consortium are D.L. Martin Co. of Mercersburg, Pa., Ingersoll Rand Co. and Hoffman Mills, both of Shippensburg, Pa., and Summit Health, Olson & Olson Inc., F&M Trust and Target, all of Chambersburg. Franklin County, Hagerstown Business College and Wilson College in Chambersburg also are involved.

Those interested in applying for BEST can call Lora Wolfe at 717-709-4924.

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