Since 2006, over 5,500 high school students have completed the in-school version of the Your Employability Skills (YES) Northeast Certificate Program. It should come as no surprise that most people are aware that YES is offered to high school students, but what many don’t know however, is that the Council also teaches a workshop series that’s offered to various different populations.

The YES Northeast Workshop Series is broken down into 22, two hour-long workshops that cover everything from communications and interview skills to financial literacy and generational diversity. The topics mirror many of the same subjects as the in school program, but are offered in a more flexible manner that better allow the Council to educate any population that’s eager to learn.

All subjects covered are in demand by the business community and are instructed by Council staff. Given the instructors knowledge of both the education and business communities, they can give a unique perspective on the topics that very few others can deliver, providing direct insight into the exact skills and behaviors that employers are currently seeking.

“Every one of the workshops and its instructors taught me something different,” said former workshop participant Kemelin Pena. “One of the workshops that I will never forget was on emotional intelligence. As I am a young mother of two, I learned concepts that I use in my daily life in order to keep myself positive, motivated, and focused on my goal. If given the chance, I would advise anyone to attend. The information provided in each workshop is very useful for both your personal and professional lives.”

Kemelin is one of the many success stories to come out of the workshop series. She enrolled in the workshops that are offered at the PA CareerLink in Hazleton. This series runs in conjunction with a GED program offered by ResCare Workforce Services. Both programs gave Kemelin the skills necessary to become gainfully employed by EDSI as a bi-lingual receptionist within the CareerLink.

The Council has formed a great relationship with both ResCare, and the ReDco Group, which runs a similar GED program at the CareerLink in Pottsville. These partnerships date all the way back to the inception of the series in 2010 and remain strong to this day, with workshops currently running at Hazleton, Pottsville, and Wilkes-Barre.

“The partnership between ResCare and MAEC has been outstanding,” said Jerry Fallabel, Youth Program Manager for ResCare Workforce Services. “One of the keys has been having an open and honest communication between our staff and the Council staff. Thanks to this dialogue, they’ve been able to construct workshops that are not only beneficial to students, but also meet the strategic WIOA mandates for providing the 14 required elements. We believe the workshop facilitators are professional, always prepared, and provide students with information which will last them a lifetime.”

“Since the 1980`s, employers have consistently responded to numerous surveys that soft skills are of the utmost importance to them when they are hiring new employees,” continued Fallabel. “The feedback that we have is that if the student demonstrates an understanding of acceptable employability skills, such as, being on time, customer service, ability to get along with co-workers, accept supervision, problem solve and show initiative, they will be much more successful in a job.

“Students, thanks to the YES program, are introduced to the value of developing these skills. Then, they are evaluated in our classes and about how they are demonstrating them and get the opportunity to use those soft skills on their Work Experience assignments where they are also evaluated by the work site supervisor. With the new common measures categories under WIOA, 6 and 12 month retention in employment is all the more crucial. Integrating employability skills into the curriculum is no longer an enhancement, it is now a necessity.”

Jerry’s statements about employability skills echo that of the 330 local employers that support the YES program. Regardless of career path, these skills are essential for anyone looking to succeed today’s workplace. This is the reason why the series has been tailored for various different groups including Schuylkill County Drug and Alcohol/Children and Youth, adult dislocated workers, YouthBuild pre-release individuals, and most recently, the Schuylkill County Prison.

In addition to the knowledge obtained through in class instruction, students earn an industry recognized credential for completing the course. Each student receives a certificate for every workshop that they attend. This can be added to their portfolios to bolster their resumes and in many cases, their self-esteem.

This added boost of self-esteem provided by the workshops is exactly what’s needed to propel the students to the next level in both their professional and personal lives. For more information on the workshop series, please contact the Council office at 570-622-0940.