Over time, Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training (JT) programs are judged by the quality and motivation of their graduates. Unfortunately, some grantees discover the importance of student recruitment well into the training cycle. Inadequate recruitment and assessment efforts can result in a class of unmotivated students, drop-outs, and low placement and retention rates. Worst of all, inadequate efforts leave participants and employers disappointed in the JT program.
The old “cookie-cutter” model which accepts all candidates, runs them through a standard curriculum, and produces a functional and employable worker is not compatible with JT programs. JT programs have limited seats and only those most motivated and likely to succeed must be selected for the rigorous program.
Every JT program student is unique, and each graduate’s individual success collectively determines the value of the program. Thoughtful recruitment and student assessment is the single most important step for success in training, retention, placement, and job satisfaction. Conversely, poor attention to recruitment often results in low retention, placement rates, and job satisfaction.
Student recruitment and assessment may appear as separate issues. However, they really combine to become a filtering system identifying those applicants most likely to find successful employment. While finding motivated, eager students is a good start, a well-developed, individual training plan is also necessary to avoid academic failure. Inadequate student assessments without individual training plans can result in students attempting to master concepts that require skills they have not yet acquired. Complete training plans can identify students with developmental education needs that may be necessary to ensure a solid knowledge base on which to build.
The environmental field’s complex nature including health and safety issues requires that new students receive careful review. In some cases, when recruits come from multiple sources, little screening has taken place. Under these circumstances, JT programs need to retain final control over screening and assessing incoming students.
Because the environmental field is so diverse, not all environmental occupations are potentially dangerous. The field encompasses jobs for a range of personalities and physical statures. JT recruitment and assessment staff can create successful matches between student abilities and occupational demands by using individual training plans coupled with a comprehensive student assessment program.
Consider the following activities as part of a systematic recruitment and assessment effort.
Step One—Student recruitment
- General awareness materials
- Detailed program information
- Application materials
- Recruitment using workforce employment organizations
- Popular applicant screening techniques used by JT grantees
- Entry skills and knowledge assessment
- Physical assessment
- Candidate interviews and expectations
- Subjective student assessments
- Acceptance and student contracts
- Individual learning plans
- Mid-term skills and knowledge assessment
- Exit skills and knowledge assessments
Step Three—Unsuccessful candidates and career referral