Saturday, March 10, 2007

KENT COUNTY -- Some West Michigan schools are offering students a chance to prove how skillful they are to employers.
Michigan's economic slump is prompting some area school districts to find ways to make sure students have necessary job skills for the real world.
Employers have voiced concerns on how prepared students are for the workforce. In fact, Ron Koehler, the Assistant Superintendent of the Kent ISD, states, "We did find that there were kids we were sending out of our high schools without the basic skills they needed to perform 30% of jobs across the community."
What's the solution?
Two West Michigan Intermediate School Districts say they have the answer in something called a "career readiness certificate."
"They want to know that you have a bit of common sense. That you can do basic things not just book smarts," said Sarah Pickart, a high school senior.
High schoolers like Sarah in Kent and Ottawa Counties will son take a basic skills test administered A.C.T. The test would assure employers that the candidate has the skills necessary to do the job, without having to go through a lot of training.
Koehler states, "It helps to very clearly define the skills that are required for the job and matches the people that have those skills with those jobs."
Some officials say it's as much a workforce development tool as an educational one, especially important right now as state leaders try to get Michigan working again.
Some say the certification would bring businesses here because they'll be able to quantify just how qualified our residents are.
Right now, no other counties are offering these national career readiness certificates. Twelve other states are also doing it, but A.C.T. claims the local programs are more expansive.

--So the writer was absent the day they taught the proper spelling of "soon". Spelling would be a skill necessary for something like, say, writing a story.