William “Chip” Holmes, left, Inter-Lakes Health president and CEO, and Chris Mallon, manager of the Ticonderoga International Paper Co. mill, tell Ticonderoga High School students about the attributes they seek when hiring new employees.
Teamwork is the key to running a successful business, so that makes teamwork the top attribute employers seek when hiring workers.
That was the message delivered to Ticonderoga High School students recently as leaders from the community’s two largest employers — International Paper and Inter-Lakes Health — visited a senior economics class.
“Our philosophy is ‘other centered’,” William “Chip” Holmes, Inter-Lakes Health president and CEO, told students. “We look for people who are willing to give more than they get back; people who are willing to work together for the good of others. Any time we make a decision we come back to that philosophy.”
Inter-Lakes Health, which includes Moses-Ludington Hospital, Heritage Commons nursing facility, Lord Howe Estates, Moses Senior Apartments and a variety of specialty clinics, has 270 employees with a $13 million annual payroll.
“We’re a health care facility and we’re obviously concerned with the health of our community’s residents,” Holmes said. “But we’re also concerned about the community’s economic health. We’re pleased we can provide jobs to local people.”
Chris Mallon, manager of the Ticonderoga International Paper Co. mill, said his facility hired more than 60 people in the past year. It has 620 employees.
“We always look for the most qualified person when we hire someone,” Mallon said. “Who is most qualified? We look at high school graduates, college graduates; we look for people who have been involved in sports, community and church projects. We try to create a complete picture of the individual to see if they’ll fit on our team.”
The business leaders look for common characteristics when hiring. They want team players, people eager to learn, those with organizational skills and those with a work ethic.
“Technical skills are a great help, but if a person is willing to work we can teach them what we’d like done,” Mallon said. “We want people who are interested in being part of the team, not just looking for a pay check.”
Jay Wells, the Ti High economics teacher, told his class teamwork will be a key to their futures.
“How many times have you heard the word teamwork today?” Wells asked students. “There’s an emphasis on teamwork because it’s important. People who work together get things done.”
As part of the economics class, Ticonderoga students are taking the National Workforce Readiness Certification program.
Wells said the program teaches situational judgement, active listening, math skills, reading skills, interview techniques and teamwork.
At the end of the course students will take a national exam. Those who pass will receive a certification that tells prospective employers they have specific workplace skills.
“We are excited to have the program up and running,” Wells said. “Students will complete the testing portion of this program that gives them the certificate in February.”
International Paper and Inter-Lakes Health believe in the National Workforce Readiness Certification program. So much so, the two firms are paying the costs of testing Ti High students.
“We are having all of our seniors take and earn the Workforce Readiness Credential,” John McDonald, Ti school superintendent, said. “We are doing it as part of the senior economics course.
“This certificate tells potential employers that these students have the skills to enter the workforce and, according to local economic development groups, is something employers are looking for,” he said. “We feel the skills taught in the course can benefit any student, whether they are heading to college or the workforce. IP and Inter-Lakes are funding the tests and the state has given an equal number of vouchers to fund future years assessments.”
Mallon and Holmes said they are pleased local students are getting the workforce readiness training.
“We’re pleased we can do this,” Holmes said. “It’s an investment in our community that will, hopefully, help us as well.”
The Ticonderoga Revitalization Alliance also offers National Workforce Readiness Credential training locally through North Country Community College at its Ticonderoga campus.