Pledging to include all stakeholders and especially business, two state departments along with related agencies are collaborating on the creation of a credential that will prove to employers a young person is ready to enter the work force.
The R.I. Department of Education and the R.I. Department of Labor and Training, along with the Governors Workforce Board, are in the beginning stages of forming an advisory committee to direct creation of the credential. They are responding to long-standing complaints from employers that young people entering the job market often lack the soft skills needed to succeed.
Brandon Melton, senior vice president for human resources at Lifespan who is closely involved in the effort, said he prefers the term “core-success skills.” The term “soft skills” suggests such skills are optional and not as important as other skills, he said.
So-called soft skills are integral to any employee’s success, Melton noted, and would include aptitude in such areas as problem-solving, decision-making, teamwork and customer relations, as well as the fundamentals of punctuality, regular attendance, proper grooming and polite behavior. “These are the skills we evaluate in candidates when making decisions about hiring,” he said of the core-success components.
Melton chairs the Career Pathways Task Force, part of the Governor’s Workforce Board, and chairs the board’s Youth Development Committee, both of which will have key roles to play in development and implementation of the work-readiness credential. The task force, he noted, is made up mostly of employers.
Cooperation of the business community is essential for this program to work. “There is absolutely no question” that business input will be sought – and sought as a first step in the data-gathering process, he said, “so this will be employer-driven.”