Wednesday, April 23, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
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Students learn entry level job skills

work certification 11_21_13

Armijo senior Bernardo Ortega speaks to interviewers for the school's Work-Ready Certification program. (Robinson Kuntz/Daily Republic)

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From page C1 | December 22, 2013 | Leave Comment

FAIRFIELD — A new program offers high school students the chance to learn the business skills that Solano County employers seek.

It’s called Solano County Work-Ready! Certification. Students take a three-week, after-school workshop – they need to have perfect attendance – and go through a review panel. Those who qualify get a certificate that they can use to help find a job.

The certificate is kind of a seal-of-approval, a sign that the holder knows the traits of a good employee.

“It started as a partnership, looking at what employers needed in Solano County for entry-level employees and to help grow our own labor market in Solano County,” said Gillie Miller of the Solano County Office of Education.

Fairfield-Suisun Chamber of Commerce members took a survey. They said they want employees to:

  • Demonstrate the willingness to work.
  • Demonstrate promptness.
  • Avoid absenteeism.
  • Demonstrate integrity.
  • Work with others as part of a team.
  • Maintain appropriate grooming and hygiene.
  • Demonstrate strong communication skills.
  • Take responsibility for completing work accurately.
  • Use and apply basic math.
  • Demonstrate customer service skills.

Twenty-seven students at Armijo and Fairfield high schools have taken part in the Work-Ready! Certification program and 11 have been certified. In January 2014, a program begins at Rodriguez High School.

Nine Armijo High School students went for their final interviews Nov. 21. One-by-one, they faced members of the business community and took questions.

Senior Bernardo Ortega sat in an Armijo High School classroom with the three members of his review panel.

“What to you – in your mind – what is selling?” Monte Hoover of Gillespie’s Abbey Carpet & Floor asked him.

Ortega replied that it involves helping customers, such as telling them they look good in certain clothes. It doesn’t include holding out promises that won’t come true, which would be false advertising.

Ortega said afterward that he took the course for experience. He wants a job in pharmaceuticals or veterinary medicine, where he can help people. In the meantime, he’s willing to do volunteer work.

“It’s always long-term for me,” he said. “I’m always thinking ahead.”

Senior Rian Guttman was thinking of a more-immediate job. He’s worked at a pizza parlor before and now he wanted a job in fast food or retail.

“I need to make money to save up for college next year,” he said.

The course gave him information on how to go into an interview, what to do, what not to do, Guttman said. For example, he will use the correct vocabulary, not slang.

Getting a job is hard, Guttman said.

“Most of the places people tell you are hiring, they don’t call back because they’ve already hired somebody by the time you get there,” Guttman said.

Guttman soon after completing the program got a job at Chick-fil-A.

Sophomore Emad Marini also said the job market is tough.

“My cousin is 18 and still has no job,” Marini said. “He’s always looking. Ever since I saw that, I got kind of nervous.”

He has time after school and there’s something to do after school – it’s called a job, he said. He’s hoping the course and certificate will help him stand out among job interview candidates.

The program is put on by the Solano County Office of Education, Travis Credit Union and the Fairfield-Suisun School District.

“The Work-Ready! Certification program recognizes that the soft skills many of us take for granted actually need to be taught,” Superintendent of Schools Jay Speck said. “The collaboration between businesses and education, to help students understand how their behavior will affect their success in the workplace, exemplifies the very best in community partnerships.”

Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929, or beberling@dailyrepublic.net. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling has been a reporter with the Daily Republic since 1987. He covers Solano County government, transportation, growth and the environment. He received his bachelors of art degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara and his masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley.
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