PRIDE as a key component of Governor’s Work Ethic Certification program

In April 2017, the unemployment rate in Elkhart County was 1.9%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It’s been reported that Elkhart County currently has between 20,000 and 30,000 unfilled job openings.

In The Elkhart Promise, Elkhart Community Schools commits to graduating students who are career/college ready and life ready. How does a graduate demonstrate that he or she is ready to be a good employee, when they may not have been previously employed elsewhere?

In the 2017-2018 school year, ECS is kicking off the Governor’s Work Ethic Certification program for 2018 seniors. The Governor’s Work Ethic Certification program incorporates PRIDE as one of its criteria, meaning students must have demonstrated Persistence, Respectfulness, Initiative, Dependability, and Efficiency, as verified by three staff signatures.

“PRIDE demonstrates work and life characteristics that are important to successful businesses to have from their best employees,” said Levon Johnson, supervisor of corporate and community partnerships. “In reaching out to businesses, we found that employees can be trained with the skills needed for the position, but how will they learn those skills – will they demonstrate initiative in learning? And after they learn the skills, will they be dependable – can an employer count on them to show up every day and work hard? Will they be efficient and do the job well? Students may not be able to demonstrate these things through previous employment, but they can demonstrate them through their actions at school.”

In addition to the critical workplace skills incorporated into the PRIDE acronym, the following criteria must be met in order for a senior to receive Work Ethic Certification:

  • Student must have 98% school attendance during their senior year.
  • Student can have no more than 4 tardies to school during their senior year.
  • Student must have a minimum cumulative 2.0 GPA.
  • Student can receive no more than one office referral during their senior year.
  • Student must perform 6 hours of community service after completion of their junior year but prior to 2 weeks before their graduation.
  • During the student’s senior year, they must have an internship, do a job shadow, or participate in a work place tour.
  • Student will submit to and pass a random drug test during their senior year of high school.

Attaining Work Ethic Certification sets graduates apart from other job candidates, and employers recognize the benefits of hiring a student with Work Ethic Certification.

“The Work Ethic Certificate Program is important because it shows that the students who participate and complete the program have gone above and beyond to show they are respectful, know how to work in a team and understand the importance of having a good work ethic which are all Values Patrick Industries believes in,” said Katie Pursel, talent acquisition manager, Patrick Industries. “Having the WEC program in the school system will help students understand expectations of employers, and will help bridge the gap between high school and starting a career. Patrick Industries is looking forward to working with students who participate in the WEC program and represent PRIDE.”

Business partners are providing incentives for students who bring Work Ethic Certification to the table. Some of the incentives include a guaranteed job interview, an increased base pay, sign-on bonus, tuition reimbursement, and scholarships.

In addition to helping provide students with a tool for gainful employment after graduation, Work Ethic Certification also provides opportunities for students who are college-bound.

“We have many graduates who work during the summer, but plan to go to college in the fall, or students who would like to work during the day, but go to college in the evening,” said Johnson. “Some of our business partners are offering tuition reimbursement or scholarships for these students. Our partners recognize the importance of hiring and retaining good employees.”

Students in the graduating class of 2018 who qualify will be the first Elkhart Community Schools students to attain the Governor’s Work Ethic Certification.