This month’s Spotlight! is shining brightly on the Waccamaw Region of South Carolina where, for a tri-county area, KRA Corporation provides workforce development services through the SCWorks Career Centers system. Over the years, this program has made the career aspirations of hundreds of adults and youth come true, and from time to time, KRA has published many of these success stories. This month, we are pleased to highlight another jobseeker-customer’s achievement…that was 4 years in the making!
As many unemployed people are apt to do, Nakia Keith might have considered going to an employment agency. There, she might have gotten a decent job, with a decent salary, and decent working conditions. After a while, Nakia might have become pretty comfortable with the situation, and stayed, and stayed, and stayed. After all, even with the improving economic situation, looking for a job is a job.
But, “decent” and “comfortable” were not in Nakia’s vocabulary, at least not when it came to choosing a career path; she knew what she wanted: a meaningful job with a sustainable wage, and options for career development and growth. And, therein lies the fundamental difference between “employment services” and “workforce development services”, like those provided by the KRA/SCWorks Career Center Program .
Nakia, now 23, enrolled in the Program in July 2009, shortly after she graduated from Georgetown High School. Sherell Robinson, KRA Career Agent, reported, “Nakia had been an accomplished student, had taken AP [Advanced Placement] and PACE [Program for Alternative Certification for Educators] courses, and had even received some college credits for those courses. So, after WIA Intake and Orientation, as part of our Career Coaching and Guidance services, we started developing her IEP [Individual Employment Plan].
As part of the IEP process, Nakia took the CareerScope , which is an assessment instrument we use to help customers identify potential career aptitudes and interests. She scored highest in Business Detail, Humanitarian, and Selling, so these results gave us a starting point for discussing potential career options.
Coming to KRA/SCWorks right after high school, Nadia had no real work experience, so we she had to rely on her own personal observations of other’s people’s jobs and occupations, as well as the CareerScope results. It was interesting to learn that visits to her Dentist had got her thinking about a career in the dental field. Firsthand, she experienced and observed the kinds of services that the Dental Assistants and Hygienists provided to her and told me, ‘I think I would love working with patients and helping them to keep their mouths and teeth in perfect health.’”
And so, a career goal was chosen, mapped out step-by-step, and eventually attained! Robinson continued, “Nakia had received scholarship support as a result of her previous academic excellence, but it was not enough to cover the cost of her total educational preparation. So, we arranged for financial assistance through WIA Individual Training Accounts, as well as WIA Supportive Services in the form of transportation reimbursements while she was in college.”
Thus Nakia’s journey began and resulted in phenomenal results: a Diploma in Applied Science for Expanded Duty Dental Assisting (August 2011) and an AA Degree in Applied Science for Dental Hygiene (May 2013), both awarded by Horry Georgetown Technical College. It should be noted that WIA also reimbursed Nakia for expenses incurred in taking various tests and attending different seminars required in the pursuit of both these programs of study. Then in August 2013, Nakia achieved credentialing as a Certified Dental Assistant, from the Dental Assisting National Board, Inc.
Robinson continued, “Nakia was a model program participant! She always complied with whatever was required of her, and completed both her Dental Assistant and Dental Hygiene studies with perfect 4.0 grade-point averages!” Nakia followed up on job leads provided by KRA/SCWorks, and was soon rewarded for her perserverance. Currently, she is employed fulltime as a Dental Assistant with Coastal Kids Dental, at a salary that is commenurate with her education and experience to date.
Robinson concluded, “Nakia is a true success story, and we are all pleased to have played a part in her achievements. She recently communicated to me that she loves her job and is grateful to the WIA Program for all that it has done to assist her.” Funded by the Waccamaw Regional Council of Governments, the KRA/SCWorks Career Center Program encompasses a tri-county area and provides comprehensive workforce development services for Adult/Dislocated Workers, and Youth in need of training and/or job placement opportunities. For jobseeker-customers, SCWorks provides workplace-readiness services, including intensive career counseling; aptitude, interest, personality, math, and reading assessments; GED preparation; resume development, job application, and interviewing skills; and job placement. Job-skills upgrading is available through Occupational Skills Training and/or On-the-Job Training opportunities. For business- customers, SCWorks provides recruitment, screening, referral, follow-up, and retention services tailored to the needs of private- and public-sector employers in the Region.  Designed and developed by the Vocational Research Institute, CareerScope is a standardized interest and aptitude assessment for education and career guidance, and is widely used in job-training programs. Specific aptitudes assessed include General Learning Ability, Verbal and Numerical Aptitudes, and Form and Clerical Perceptions. Specific interest categories include Artistic, Plants/Animals, Mechanical, Business Detail, Accommodating, Leading/Influencing, Scientific, Protective, Industrial, Selling, Humanitarian, and Physical Performing.