Employers: New generation of employees lacks business skills

TORRINGTON – What does it take to make an employee who will benefit your business? This was not the scheduled topic for the monthly Eastern Wyoming College Community Roundtable hosted by EWC President Lesley Travers last Thursday, Feb. 8, but it soon became the focus of discussion. Travers hosts the noon hour gathering as a means of hearing concerns and comments from the community. This one lasted well past the one hour that was scheduled, and included one of the largest crowds since the sessions began last fall.
Among the most vocal in presenting their concerns and possible solutions were Derrick Lockman from Banner Health, Terry Glass from 21st Century Equipment and John Mitchell of Natures Composites. They all are concerned about the number and quality of individuals coming into the employment field.
Lockman is especially concerned about the lack of well-trained CNA’s and a nursing shortage. He is concerned about training opportunities at EWC, as well as the nursing program on the EWC
Douglas campus.
Travers said the nursing program at EWC has been dropped in order to not compete with the Douglas program. However, CNA training is still offered at EWC, and will continue, with some enhancements. She said that although the formal training in the nursing program will be at Douglas, training opportunities will be available at Torrington. In fact, she said dorm rooms have been made available for out of town students working here.
On less specific concerns, the main issue is the lack of business and customer service skills in today’s young workforce. Employers are concerned about the lack of life skills and “soft” skills, such as proper dress, and interaction with customers. Many of today’s job seekers cannot count change, spell, or solve minimum job-
related problems.
Glass, from 21st Century, traces some of the problem to today’s public education
“They have been allowed to do “do-overs,” Glass said. “They have not been allowed to fail. We’re in a brutal environment, and there are no “do-overs.”
He said the company is working with Western Nebraska Community College on a program to enhance learning opportunities and skills for students. He said that a “living resume” type of program with WNCC has students work one hour a day, and this creates a type of long term interview, during which “they interview us, too. It’s kind of a two-way street,” Glass said.
John Mitchell of Natures Composites in Torrington said that one of his main issues is applications that he can’t read and incomplete resumes. He also encounters a number of employees who fail to show up for work, but expect to have a job when they return. Another major concern is the young adults of today who use all of the electronic gadgets, but don’t have any idea of how they work or what makes them work. He is concerned with finding employees who understand the technology that they work with.
Attempting to resolve these problems are area government agencies, such as the Workforce Development office in Torrington. Gilbert Servantez, director at the Torrington site, said staff has gone into schools, and visited probation and parole offices, as well as the Youth Challenge program at Camp Guernsey, attempting to make these people aware of what employers expect.
Callie Allred, also at the Torrington Workforce office, said they also do a lot of work site training, trying to teach skills and other aspects of their jobs that will make them valuable employees.
She said it takes a lot of teamwork and communication to find the right people for jobs in today’s world. She has found a lack of motivation is also a major element in a poor job review.
Another aspect of the discussion was presented by Wally Wolski, a farmer in the Yoder/Hawk Springs area, who is a member of Governor Mead’s ENDOW program. Wolski said the Millennials are a whole different set of youth who have led sheltered lives, and are not prepared for a competitive world
 “Trying to correct that as young adults is a problem,” he said. “It needs to start at
grade school.”
Wolski said this situation is going to become even more important as Wyoming tries to meet education and work ethic needs over the next 20 years
and beyond.
Travers said EWC is working to address issues discussed, as well as others it finds in educating today’s youth, and offered to continue working toward producing a workforce that meets today’s needs.
The Roundtable meeting concluded with suggestions of a central location for finding assistance in meeting the needs of employers and potential employees, but without any defined plan.
The Roundtable discussions are held at noon, the second Thursday of each month, in the CTEC conference room on the EWC campus. For more information, contact EWC at (307) 532-8200.

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