CSCC unveils assessment tools
by DELANEY WALKER, Banner Staff Writer
Jan 17, 2013 | 1656 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Manufacturing Day
STEPHEN BERRY of Scientific Management Techniques explained the mechanics of the electrical skill assessment machine to the gathered local manufacturers, workforce professionals and organization representatives.  Banner photo, DELANEY WALKER
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Cleveland State Community College on Wednesday presented the school’s future skills assessment machines in a Manufacturing Skills Day with representatives from East Tennessee manufacturers, organizations and state workforce professionals.

“We believe these assessments will help you tremendously, either in terms of selecting employees, promoting employees or training employees,” said Dr. Carl Hite, CSCC president.

Stephen Berry of Scientific Management Techniques provided information on the four machines. The ones discussed were the computer numeric control, the programmable logic control, the electrical skill assessment and the mechanical skill assessment. More than 40 years of data support the skills assessment testing machines, said Berry. The devices are deployed in 31 countries.

Assessment machines can test aptitude, determine a future employee’s skill level and pinpoint employee needs.

“An assessment simplifies and lowers costs of hiring because you know a person has the skill set their resume presents,” Berry said.

The assessment process is fault driven on the programmable logic control machine, the electrical skill assessment and the mechanical skill assessment. Employees and applicants are given information about the machine. They have 10 to 15 minutes to determine and correct the “fault” in the system. Their time of completion positively correlates to their assessment score. A faster completion time results in a higher percentage.

“Troubleshooting is at the heart of our assessment and skills-building curriculum,” Berry said.

The assessment machines and training are a part of Cleveland State’s plan to meet the needs of local manufacturers. Both will be offered through the college’s OneSource Workforce Readiness Center. Rick Creasy, workforce development director, said the school is interested in providing flexible training schedules for employees.

Cleveland State students, and their future employers, will benefit from the assessment machines and on-campus training. Students can identify problem areas in their skills and use training to meet the need. Hite said students coming from CSCC will be skilled and ready to work. The assessments and training are a part of the community college’s answer to the acute skills shortage set to increase as baby boomers retire.

Brenda Choate, Cormetech human resources manager, and Denise Rice, Cormetech director of operations, were pleased with the presentation.

“It is exciting to think we would have [such assessment machines] available to us,” Choate said.

Rice said Cormetech currently uses paper-and-pen assessments for hard skills and team interviewing for soft skills.

“We are interested in these programs for both assessments of new employees and for the continued skill upgrades of company workers,” Rice said. “This will be helpful particularly for manufacturing. It is a more real-life type of application. A lot of people who work in manufacturing just don’t work well in paper-and-pen type of tasks. This would be a much better assessment to determine their skill level.”

She said Cleveland State’s program would be an aid in finding trained employees.

“It would be great to have a local education entity which would be able to assess and train [potential employees],” Rice said. “We already know we are struggling to find people to fill the positions we have. It is the training and the followup training which will be really important.”

Creasy said early March is the tentative deadline to have the machines and training in order. He also said the presentation of the machines appeared to be a success.

“We had a fantastic turnout. We had a large number of HR directors, plant managers and city officials,” Creasy said. “... The need for assessment is what is bubbling up in the industry. Most anyone you speak [says] we need assessments and training.

“We need assessments for the hiring decision and we need training for our current employees who want to sharpen their skills or advance their careers.”

The weeks going into early March will be dedicated to Cleveland State instructors learning how to work the machines while undergoing their own training.

Creasy said he hopes the manufacturers see what Cleveland State is trying to do for those in industry.

“I want them to see the commitment CSCC has made for education to align with employers and I want employers to partner with us to close skill gaps so production increases,” Creasy said. “What we are trying to do here, if it is implemented correctly, should increase productivity.”