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February 6, 2014

VARYING SKILL SET: Regional Works Council explores preparing students for careers

NEW ALBANY — Technical certifications are great, but punctuality and a good attitude are in some cases, better.

Regional business leaders met with education officials to tell them what skills are lacking in work forces at a forum of the Region 10 Works Council — one of many set up across the state by Gov. Mike Pence to help develop strategies for strengthening job skills — at the Prosser Career Education Center on Thursday.

They said more employees need “soft skills,” and maybe a way to measure them.

Louis Jensen, director of high schools for the New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated School Corp., said even though timeliness and other skills like it aren’t on ISTEP+, public schools are still trying to find a way to fit them into their curriculum.

“We’re addressing that, it’s just hard to quantify it,” Jensen said. “It’s interesting to hear the different perspectives of the different community members who are here today. You have to look at that to see what you can do to comprehensively meet all of their needs. You don’t want to be a magnet program, and that’s not what we are.”

But Paul Perkins, Region 10 Works Council chairman, said the answer to measuring those skills might already have existed. He said the state tested the Work Ethic Certification program for high schoolers. They could list the certification on a resume to show employers how they measure up against other employees in basic work-related skills.

Business leaders at the forum said they’d support reviving the program and would recognize the certification.

“It would be important to me,” Diane Fischer, owner and president of L & D Mail Masters, said. “That would be a new carrot that’s not out there now. You can see the skill level based on a transcript, but if you saw that work ethic certification, I think that would be something new to bring in.”

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Jamie Collins, Scottsburg, works on lesson plans in her classroom at Scribner Middle School on Monday afternoon. Collins was the recipient of a $100 gift card to the Your Educational Supply Store from the New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated School Corp. Education Foundation. All first-time teachers in the school system received a gift card to help them set up their classrooms.

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