Login NowClose 
Sign In to thecouriertimes.com           
Forgot Password

Support growing for Work Ethic Certificate

By TRAVIS WEIK - tweik@thecouriertimes.com

Twenty companies from Henry County and the surrounding communities have pledged their support of the Governor’s Work Ethic Certificate (WEC) Program at the New Castle Career Center.

The Governor’s WEC is a program that allows students to earn a certificate showing potential employers that they can show up on time, work together with other people and accomplish their assigned tasks.

The Work Ethic Certificate does not replace a high school diploma in any way. Instead, it quantifies what employers call “soft skills,” like punctuality and productivity.

The career center received grant from the Department of Workforce Development to kick off the program. Now halfway through the first year, the program partners looked back at their successes and looked forward to new challenges.

“The numbers are looking really good up to this point,” Work Ethic/Work Ready Coordinator Todd York said Wednesday, speaking at the Area Work Ethic Advisory Committee Luncheon at New Castle Career Center.

He told the assembled industry representatives and community leaders that as of Thursday, more than 700 students in the region have signed up for the WEC program. 

York predicted that as many as 1,400 kids will be signed up for the WEC by this time next year.

Students can begin working toward their certificates in elementary school by focusing on persistence, respectfulness, initiative, dependability and efficiency, or PRIDE.

A fifth or sixth grade student must not have a semester grade lower than a C, and middle and high school students need to maintain a 2.0 GPA, or C-average.

Students trying to earn the WEC at any level of the program must have a 98 percent attendance record, and “no more than two minor discipline referrals each year,” according to a handout distributed by the career center.

The certification also has a community service element to it. Depending on when they graduate from elementary school, two hours of community service are required in their fifth or sixth-grade year, and two hours of service are required during their middle school career. Four hours of community service are required in high school for completion.

Those who earn certificates in fifth, sixth and eighth grades will have them signed by a local official, and those who earn it in high school will have it signed by the Governor of Indiana.

Students will be dropped from the WEC program if they do not consistently work to meet the standards.

“It’s not a trophy for everyone,” said New Castle Career Center Director Chris Lamb.

Lamb said 20 businesses from Henry and the surrounding counties have already partnered with the Work Ethic Certificate program.

By being a partner, they promise to offer incentives to graduates who have earned a WEC. These incentives could be preferential interviews, or even a higher base pay rate than their peers.

Lamb explained that a WEC can help businesses skip the common 90-day probationary period because they already know that the young men and women with that certificate will show up to work on time and do their jobs.

Other incentives that businesses can offer WEC holders are tuition reimbursement or a sign-on bonus.

NCCC recognized Ivy Tech Community College, ERA Integrity Real Estate, HR Connections, Hinsey-Brown Funeral Service, the New Castle-Henry County Economic Development Corporation, Hancock Hope House and Keihin Thursday for partnering with them to honor Henry County students’ certificates.

Markleville Lumber is the newest local company to sign on with the Work Ethic program. They submitted their agreement to the New Castle Career Center just before the luncheon Wednesday.

When he announced the program over the summer, Lamb said he hoped to have 50 to 80 businesses partner with the Work Ethic Certificate program by the end of the school year.

“These partnerships are what it takes to keep it alive,” Lamb said.

York has been trying different ways to keep kids excited about the Work Ethic Certificate and to keep the public aware of it.

He is hosting pizza parties for all the students who are still on track to earn their certificates. 

Henry County Community Foundation President Beverly Matthews surprised York during the lunch Thursday by announcing that the Foundation will cover the $900 cost of buying all the pizzas, as a way to show their continued support for the WEC program.

IronGate Creative out of Hagerstown is also making a video about the program to help spread the word throughout the community.

“It’s going to be good across the board, I think, if people buy into it,” York said.