Denise Rice, Cormetech director of operations, expected to hire no more than six applicants from the initial 60-plus pool.
“We hired nine,” Rice said. “That was 50 percent better than our plan.”
Cormetech approached Rick Creasy, OneSource Workforce Development director, about using the program as part of the next hiring selection.
Rice explained time was short. She would need the new employees before the end of July. This meant the applicant process, training and interviews needed to be finished in a matter of weeks.
An ad attracted interest, and applicants submitted their information on Cormetech’s website. Names and contact information were then given to OneSource. Applicants were asked to come in to take the Work Keys test.
Allan Gentry, CSCC technology department chair, explained the test is recognized by industries across the nation.
“It gives us a baseline for where their education is,” Gentry said. “Whether it is early high school, high school graduate or early college.”
Around 40 applicants scored high enough to move to the next level. At this point, students were led through a series of mechanical assessments. These were completed using the recently-purchased mechanical skills assessment machine from Scientific Management Techniques.
A total of 23 participants then moved into the five-day training at Cleveland State.
Students showed up for four hours of training Monday morning.
“Our production manager actually opened up the session and talked a little bit about Cormetech,” Rice said. “Everyone of the Human Resource team observed at some point [during the training].”
Observing the five days allowed HR a closer look at the prospective employees.
“They were able to observe whether the participants arrived on time,” Rice said. “Did they come back from break on time? How did they interact with the other candidates?”
Participants attended five days of training split between both hard and soft skills needed for the workforce.
The first day was spent with Gentry going over technical objectives. Tuesday and Wednesday were then devoted to soft skills and teamwork. The final two days found students back with Gentry for further math equations and mechanical instruction.
Creasy and Gentry made it clear the 20-hour program was designed to meet Cormetech’s schedule and needs.
“We can do 40. We can do as much as the employer wants,” Creasy said. “We did this because [Cormetech] needed to make employee decisions very rapidly. So we scaled it down, we modified the training.”
Several of the recent hirees agreed the process was quick but efficient.
Steven Goodwin described the process as interesting.
“They told us different things that actually helped prepare us for our job,” Goodwin said. “Like the math and values I use over there for my job right now. It did help.”
David Bankston said he has spent most of his career in manufacturing. He expressed his mixed excitement and regret at the trouble-shooting techniques taught during the training.
“I was going through the class, and I learned a lot of things I wish I had learned a long time ago,” Bankston said. “I could have cut my [trouble-shooting] time down a lot.”
Jessica Couch said she appreciated the respect shown her by the OneSource trainers.
“They treated you like you had been there for years,” Couch said, explaining she is usually the youngest in the workplace. “They were really awesome about it.”
All three said the training was different than they expected.
“I thought it was going to be a lot of mathematics, a lot of technical stuff,” Bankston said. “They actually showed you what to do from the interview to getting into the shop and being successful in the job.”
Added Bankston, “They wanted to make sure everybody understood [the material]. Everybody was really friendly.”
Gentry made it clear the information was not being given to help students pass a set test.
“I told them in class ... We are showing you the kinds of things you need to study and learn to get familiar with any machine or device you are going to have to operate,” Gentry said. “You need to understand how it works.”
Twenty applicants made it through the five days of training. These participants then took another series of mechanical assessments. These numbers were compared with the first assessment scores.
According to Gentry and Creasy, the comparison allowed OneSource to determine aptitude, skills and the individual’s ability to learn.
“The ones who have the aptitude are able to pick up and go with it,” Gentry explained. “We did see some improvements in their scores, because they were able to pick up some important elements of how the machine operates. Some of them made some tremendous leaps in their scores.”
Couch said she went from missing all but one on the first assessment to scoring a 100 on the second.
Bankston and Goodwin both agreed their scores were significantly higher at the end of the week.
Twelve of the 20 were chosen by OneSource to be interviewed at Cormetech by a five-person panel. Nine of the 12 were offered a position the same day as their interview.
Rice said the process saved a significant amount of time for Cormetech’s HR team.
“In the past, when you had 65 applicants, you had to go through each application, each interview,” Rice explained. “Honestly, when you go through a resume, it is hard to really do a good assessment. We didn’t even look at resumes until after they had gone through the actual assessment. I think it is a much fairer assessment.”
Creasy said the recent partnership served as a milestone for the OneSource program in its efforts to provide a ready workforce for local manufacturers.
“This is the role of the post-secondary education: to prepare the workforce,” Creasy said. “It is not necessarily to hand out degrees. That is not going to get me a job. What is going to get me a job is skill.”
Rice expressed an interest in partnering again with OneSource in the fall for the next hiring process at Cormetech.
“What Cleveland State has provided is a full package deal,” Rice said. “It is more than just the industrial readiness training. One of the things manufacturers are struggling with is the shortage of skills. We have lots of jobs available.”
She explained the company has jobs every day they are unable to fill due to applicants’ lack of experience and skill.
The Industrial Readiness Training allowed Cormetech to see each participant’s current skill level, ability to learn and their potential.
“It opened our applicant pool because we used to have a rule that you had to have one year of manufacturing experience before you applied,” Rice said. “People who are trying to get into manufacturing were struggling with most manufacturers wanting them to have experience first.”
She said the requirement was waived due to the assessments.
Creasy and Gentry agreed there are tweaks to be made in the program. But, overall, they believe everything went well.
“This was not just training in the classroom,” Creasy said. “We got people hired.”