Employers in Greater Hazleton continue to find that the area has an excellent workforce in terms of available workers, skills, trainability and more.
Industries such as food processing, plastics, and logistics and transportation have located facilities in Greater Hazleton.
Facility leaders consistently rate the local workforce very highly, citing in particular employees’ productivity and commitment to safety and quality. They also note the workforce availability and skills necessary for their operations.
Lydia Zaganjor, human relations manager for Bimbo Bakeries USA, which operates Stroehmann’s in Valmont Industrial Park and Entenmann’s in Humboldt Industrial Park, said, “We have a very high-quality workforce, dedicated to maintaining a safe work environment and producing delicious, high-quality bread and sweet baked goods.”
She said that when the company seeks applications, they get a good number of people applying, many of whom have prior manufacturing experience.
“We are generally looking for people with a manufacturing background, so that is a major benefit to us and them,” she said.
Lesley Herring, who works in human resources for Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) in Humboldt Industrial Park North, said the company’s employees have a good work ethic, with many of them interested in advancing within the company.
“We look for a good work history and relevant experience and have found that in many of our applicants,” she said.
“Although we just started hiring in 2009, we already have long-term employees. We have many people we can foresee being here for the long run,” Herring said.
To assist employers in Luzerne and Schuylkill counties in finding qualified employees, the Pennsylvania CareerLink offers the WorkKeys program.
WorkKeys, which was developed by national testing organization ACT, measures the basic skills necessary for today’s working world. The program provides employers with an assessment of a potential employee’s skills as related to foundational skills and abilities required for certain positions. It also provides one-on-one instruction to rectify skill gaps. Individuals can earn certification on four different levels.
WorkKeys has been recognized by employers and workforce investment boards throughout Pennsylvania for its assistance in making the hiring process easier. Local employers have said that applicants with the National Career Readiness certification earned through WorkKeys stand out.
Steve Boucher, general manager at E.S. Kluft, which manufactures and distributes luxury mattresses in Humboldt Industrial Park North, said WorkKeys has been very beneficial to his company.
“It has helped quite a bit and has allowed us to bring on people more quickly than we normally would have,” he said. “It was also a huge help to have the program offset some of our training costs.”
Christine Jensen, site administrator at the Hazleton and Wilkes-Barre CareerLink offices, said, “We are getting very positive feedback from the employers using the WorkKeys program, who appreciate being able to find people with appropriate skills for the openings the companies have. We have recently added a talent assessment that measures soft skills such as teamwork, attendance and timeliness as well as applied mathematics, locating information and reading for information.”