Participants in Change 1000 celebrate training completion

Steve Chapman

After receiving her certificate, Tara Smith shakes hands with Bryan Coomer (left), a career services lead with Bryan University, and Derick Barnes, a member of the Workforce Investment Board of the Missouri Career Center in Springfield. (Photo by Steve Chapman)

20-hour soft skills program readies future employees for the workforce through teaching
Ten people who took part in Change 1000, a program designed to enhance career readiness through the teaching of “soft skills,” celebrated the completion of their classroom training with a special ceremony at the MARC in Mt. Vernon on Wed., Jan. 15. During the ceremony, each of the participants received certificates to mark their accomplishment.
Change 1000 is a 20-hour program designed to give participants character training in matters that fall outside of practical skill training which was taught in partnership with Bryan University of Springfield.
Bill Smillie, a business services specialist with the Missouri Work Assistance Program who helped with the training, said the program teaches participants how to be successful in the workplace by maintaining positive attitudes, communicating effectively with co-workers and supervisors, and other job skills.
“Soft skills are the things we learned when we were kids, that our parents basically beat into us,” he said. “Being on time, having a good attitude, honesty and things like that. Today, we were teaching skills to our participants about (soft skills). In fact, one of the classes we had today was on financial planning; keeping a checkbook, what’s your paystub worth? The other part is how to be a good employee; how to talk to your boss, how to communicate with your workers, and be successful.”
Smillie also said employers are looking to hire people who possess the skills taught in Change 1000.
“Employers tell us, ‘We need people who have soft skills, that have good soft skills, meaning ‘I’m on time, I have a good attitude, a day’s work for a day’s pay,’” he said. “That’s what employers want. I can teach you how to weld, I can teach you how to cut and fit, but I can’t teach you what’s in your heart.”
The keynote speaker at the ceremony was Derick Barnes, a member of the Workforce Investment Board of the Missouri Career Center in Springfield. He urged the program participants to take advantage of the opportunity which had been given to them.
“This is called ‘Change 1000,’ and so take advantage of what you learn here, and really go change your world,” he said. “Take what you learn through this program and apply it to your life.” Barnes later predicted that the Change 1000 participants would be an inspiration to others down the road.
“Likely, these people are going to be helping each other, helping other people (and) going to be success stories that are going to be testimonies to other people,” he said.
The participants received their training at the Mt. Vernon Area Chamber of Commerce. Pam Dudley, chamber director, said that though the training was directed towards the participants, she felt she also benefitted from it.
“The workforce group approached the Chamber about using our facility,” she said, “just because we have a little bit more space for a classroom, and it was really a great experience for me because I got to overhear what they were training and teaching on. Very valuable tools, things that we forget, that we knew about business years ago. A good reminder for us, even those of us who are seasoned in the workforce.”
Rebeca Bailey, one of the participants, said she learned new communication skills which she plans to use on her next job.
“I learned communication is a big thing in interviews and with other people, and everybody has a different personality,” she said, “so that other personalities might clash with other people, because you don’t know that person; they could be a totally different person than you.”
The program participants’ training didn’t end with the graduation ceremony. They continued their training the next day with mock interviews, and on Friday, Jan. 17, they took a career-readiness test. After completing the test, they were awarded career-readiness certificates with rankings of bronze, silver, gold or platinum. Smillie said the certificates could help the participants as they seek out employment, depending on what ranking they received.
“Employers know what that means,” he said. “If you walk in and you have a platinum and you show me your platinum certificate, I already know that you should be one or two rungs up the ladder in the employment process.”


Lawrence County Record

312 S. Hickory St.
Mt. Vernon, MO, 65712


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