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Joe Klocko: Criteria for business success

Posted: January 22, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: January 22, 2014 2:00 a.m.

When you think of California do words like innovative, leading-edge and trendy come to mind? A place where new ideas first take root before they become woven into the very fabric of the national culture and industrial base before becoming recognized around the world as being uniquely “American”. If so, you may be surprised to learn that in one area, the critical business process of selecting and hiring new employees, California is lagging behind the rest of the country.

That’s right, for well over a decade, companies in the East and Mid-West have embraced the use of nationally recognized certifications into their employee recruiting process. These certifications assure, or at least improve the probability, that they are adding the right talent to their employee base. Simply said, nationally recognized certifications assist your team in hiring the right people, with the right skills and abilities, to make your company more successful, if not feared by your competitors. So if hiring the best employees to meet your company’s needs is not important to the success of your business, stop reading this column now and save yourself five minutes to attend to other business matters.

For decades, positions in numerous occupations have required certifications either through the mandate of professional organizations or a requirement from state or federal laws and regulations. Think of doctors, lawyers, EMT’s financial planners, welders and the like. Yet companies in industries ranging from warehousing/logistics, all types of manufacturing and numerous service industries rely on simple interview processes. Some supplement the interviewing process with basic skills test that may, or may not, be non-discriminatory or accurately predict a prospective employee’s future on-the -job success.

I view the nationally recognized certificate structure at three levels. At the foundation are certifications that measure basic employability skills. Next are industry level certifications and finally specific skills within industry segments.

Looking at basic employability skills products like the ACT WorkKeys National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) are well recognized. Individuals take proctored national standard tests in three areas: Applied Mathematics, Locating Information and Reading for Information. For each topic, successful test takers can receive Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum awards. The ACT organization provides recommended certification levels for over 400 job titles so correlating NCRC award levels with defendable criteria to make hiring decisions for a wide range of jobs is easy for you, the employer.

For industry level certifications let’s focus on the world of manufacturing for the moment. The Manufacturing Skills Standards Council (MSSC) offers national certifications in two areas: Certified Production Technician and Certified Logistics Technician. MSSC certifications are “… focused on the core skill sets and knowledge needed by the nation’s front-line production and material handling workers”. Each tests for different knowledge and skill sets relative to the certification being awarded.

At the highest tier of specific skills there are certifications from organizations like the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS). The NIMS organization test to standards that are written and piloted by industry and offers fifty-two different metalworking credentials ranging from entry-level to master-level job skills assessments.

The American Welding Society also issues similar welding related certifications.

My last two examples were specific to the industry I know best, manufacturing. I know there are other certification organizations the can qualify individual skill sets in the areas of project management, inventory planning and control, network management, lean practices and many, many more. I believe I can safely say that, with a little research, you too can find and use national certifications to assist you in finding and hiring the best employees in your company’s area of expertise. So elevate your employee hiring process; seek out and adopt the use of national skills standards at your company.



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