Employers Have a Vital Role in Building a Better Workforce

“Everybody’s got the same equipment and machinery. What differentiates us from anyone else out there in the marketplace is our people.” – Jeff Stapel

Shickel Corporation H.R. Manager Jeff Stapel knows that skilled, industry-credentialed workers give his Shenandoah Valley firm its edge in a very competitive field.

Shickel designs, fabricates and installs custom engineered metal architectural features such as stairs, railings, and balconies. From its headquarters in Bridgewater, the family-owned firm has built up a client base in 12 states over 80 years.

For Stapel, an essential part of developing a pipeline of talent with the right technical skills and work ethic has been to work closely with Blue Ridge Community College’s workforce training division, particularly with instructors who teach FastForward career training programs.

“We formed a committee of local employers who have used people coming out of the FastForward program, and we helped develop the curriculum, help choose the equipment and the processes they were going to use for instruction. So, we have more control over what comes out of that that program to meet our needs,” says Stapel.

“We’ve all heard people complain about the product that’s coming out of our school systems and our training programs. And a lot of it is due to our failure as business owners to be involved in the training process.”

“So it’s incumbent upon us as employers and business people to play a more active role. If you don’t get involved, you really can’t complain about the product that you get. It’s a little bit of the ‘put up, or shut up.’”

Hear Jeff Stapel’s thoughts on the importance of business engagement with workforce training here.