Program to show how to get, stay ‘work ready’

Posted April 17, 2009, at 8:59 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 11:49 a.m.

HOULTON, Maine — You need a job, but you want to go to work sporting all of your piercings and keeping your hair styled in three different colors. And you have a problem arriving at appointments on time — often.

Are you work ready?

That is what a soon-to-be launched program at the Houlton Higher Education Center will help you find out.

WorkReady is a program of Maine’s Local Workforce Investment Boards and the Maine Department of Education. The 60-hour program is designed to teach participants what employers expect from someone who is really ready to work.

Otis Smith, director of the SAD 29-SAD 70 Adult Education Center, said Thursday that the initiative will take place for the first time in Houlton May 11-29.

“This is open to any adult who is out of high school and who wants to work,” he said. “We are recruiting students now, and we will accept a maximum of 12 participants.”

Those who want to take part in the program must pass a competency exam in math, reading and writing. Participants also must be ready to adhere to the program’s rigid attendance policy and must have references from two people who they are not related to.

Once accepted, participants will take courses on resume creation, time management, verbal and oral skills, dress and appearance, teamwork and other skills. Smith said planners decided to bring the project to Houlton after it ran successfully in Fort Kent last year.

“This course is going to teach skills that really can’t be taught on the job,” Smith said. “This is going to help people who have trouble getting a job, or once they do [get a job], have trouble keeping it.”

The Houlton course is being put on in partnership with a number of local businesses and organizations.

“I have been really impressed with the reaction we have received from local businesses,” Smith said. “They really see a need for this program in the community.”

Smith said there are people out there who need assistance in getting or keeping a job or even garnering a better job.

“Not everyone knows how to dress properly for work, or that not all employers will allow their employees to wear piercings,” he said. “They may not fully realize that you have to show up on time and have good communication skills. They also may not understand how to build a resume or what to do with certain tax forms that they have to fill out on the job. This program is going to teach them that and a great deal more.”

Some aspects of the program will be presented outside the classroom. Smith said participants also will tour local businesses and job sites to see what it’s like to work there. The group also will hear from guest speakers.

“This is going to be a great program,” Smith said on Thursday. “We are urging anyone that thinks they may be eligible to put in an application.”

Anyone interested in learning more about WorkReady should call 521-3100 ext. 3150.

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