The entry-level workforce: three key programs that can help your business.

Author:Sandlin, Eileen Figure
Position::Workforce - Recruiting and training workers

If your business needs help recruiting and training qualified entry-level workers, here are three employer-based workforce initiatives you need to know more about.

The Learning Network

Founded in 2000 under the aegis of the Detroit Regional Chamber's Business Education/Training Alliance (BETA) and sponsored by the Hudson-Webber Foundation, the Learning Network is a consortium of local organizations that meets on a regular basis to tackle difficult employment problems. At these meetings, participants discuss and dissect problematic issues like employee retention, goal setting, corporate policies and training, as well as "soft skills" like communication. Then the employers are challenged to carry proposed solutions back to their organizations, implement them and report back to the group on any successes--or failures.

"In our Learning Network group, we shared stories and coaching models that helped us become aware of the best practices to use relative to the target population we're going after," says Trinee Moore, director of the Visiting Nurse Association Training Institute in Southfield. "This helps employers find and retain employees. But ultimately, the major reason the Learning Network works is that it helps companies create a career path for its entry-level employees, which makes them want to stay."

For more information on the Learning Network, contact Vonda Turner, director, entry-level employment initiatives, Detroit Regional Chamber at (313) 596-0330 or e-mail

Work Keys

When you hire a new entry-level employee, there's almost always an element of risk. The Michigan Department of Career Development (MDCD) can help increase the likelihood that you've made the right decision. Its Work Keys career development system offers a number of assessment tools to measure employees' skill levels so workers can be matched to the job that suits them best, thus increasing their chances of long-term success.

One such tool is Work Keys' job profiles, which analyze jobs and identify skill levels needed by employees. Job profiling allows students and workers to make appropriate decisions about jobs and identify their strengths and weaknesses as they pursue their education and career goals. Defining skills this way makes it easier for employers, as well. They can identify employees' strengths and weaknesses, then either assign workers to the appropriate position or train them to take on a different job for which they show...

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