It is worth the time to match employee skills, values, and desires to your workplace.

It never ceases to amaze me how the communities in Gladwin County work like families.  When problems arise they look inside themselves, their structures, their resources, their people, to solve those problems.  Like every other community in the Great Lakes Bay Region, Beaverton has a shortage of available talent compared to business needs. Well, if you continue to use the past practice this might be true. The traditional method of posting a job and waiting for applicants hasn’t proved successful in this new economy.  Employers are having to go out, find, and nurture the talent that is there, where they weren’t looking before.  Sometimes that is the high school.

A great example of this concept is the acquisition of a new Public Works employee for the City of Beaverton.  Blake Whitehouse was born and raised in Beaverton.  It is his hometown.  Blake is just beginning his career with the City of Beaverton. 

Blake is self-motivated.   He looks for opportunity.  As a veteran teacher I recognized who Blake was as a student.  He was the kid who sat in a classroom, well-behaved, following directions, getting it done.  But inside he was fidgeting, needing to move around, desiring to get outside.

Both of Blake’s grandfathers worked in construction.  After years of listening to them talk about their work, how every day offered new environments and new challenges, Blake knew that he wanted to do that kind of work.   He had seen different people working around town during the summer so he made an aggressive move and asked the mayor if there was any work for him.  The mayor sent him to Heath Kaplan, City Manager for the City of Beaverton.

Beaverton initiated a Summer Seasonal Work Program a couple of years ago.  They hire about eight, 17-18 year olds to take care of parks, flowers, the cemetery, etc.  These young people work 40 hours a week with pay, get valuable work experience, and provide the community a chance to learn about the young talent who live there.  Blake was one of these students.  He became a co-op student attending high school while working for the City.  He demonstrated a great mechanical skill set and this, along with his work ethic, resulted in his offer of full-time employment with the City.

Blake is very satisfied with his position in Public Works.  The other employees treat him with respect  and are constantly teaching him about the work and how to be a good employee for the City.  He is receiving additional education and will soon be licensed L2, S3, and D3 as a Water Systems Operator. This investment pays off for the City as a more highly skilled and diverse employee.  For Blake there is a wage increase and advancement potential in the future.

Heath Kaplan is also satisfied with the results of the Summer Seasonal Work Program.  He has seen the value of attracting talent from the pool already living in the area.  Those with family in the area are more likely to want to stay, learn and earn at “home”, and earning a fair, living wage contributes to that effort. There is an element of loyalty to their work place as they see it benefiting their own friends and families. Realizing the potential, Mr. Kaplan continues to nurture an “evolving, developing relationship with the school,” particularly the work-based learning coordinator.  Identifying young people with the needed skill set, work ethic, and intrinsic desires matched to the workplace is an effort that can have great payoff for any small town business.

Mr. Kaplan is part of a consortium currently working with State grant funding to build new skilled trades curriculum, lab space, and other infrastructures that Beaverton and Coleman will utilize to move this grow- your- own- talent concept to a whole new level.   More to come on that process!