La PORTE — A reinvigorated effort to connect La Porte High School students with local employers who are eager to find quality workers can kill two birds with one stone to benefit the community as a whole, program advocates say.
“I’ve seen both sides,” technical communications teacher Matt Presley said. “You have students who don’t know where to look for a job and employers who sometimes have a hard time finding quality workers.”
“This is a problem, but it’s a problem we can solve in La Porte,” he said.
Hire a Slicer — launched two years ago by Presley with a $1,000 grant from the Greater La Porte Economic Development Corp., the Greater La Porte Chamber of Commerce, the city of La Porte and La Porte Community School Corp. — took on new life last month.
Two significant changes: Organizers expanded the program to include resumes from alumni as well as high school seniors. And companies were invited to post job openings on the site.
“Before, it was kind of a one-way street,” Presley said.
As of this week, more than 300 resumes are posted on the site and 15 local companies are advertising job openings, but the new program is just getting started.
“I think it will continue to grow,” he said. “We’re just now kicking things off.”
The Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development offices continue to support the program, allowing businesses to post one job per month at no cost as a membership benefit.
Additional postings are available to chamber members for a small fee, and the program is available to any local employer, Presley said. Revenues pay for site maintenance and other career-readiness programs for students.
Businesses were clamoring for a way to reach job candidates, according to Chamber of Commerce President Rita Mrozinski, and Hire a Slicer is just one of several efforts the chamber is using to bridge the gap between educators and employers.
“A lot of people don’t know all the great employers we have in the community,” Mrozinski said.
Manufacturers, a hospital, legal firms, banks and construction companies are among employers posting jobs so far.
Students, alumni and employers can gain full access to the site by requesting a password. RE3 Consulting, a digital marketing agency, is managing the site.
With about 60 positions to fill, Arconic has a stake in Hire a Slicer, according to human relations director Tera Grinnell.
“We regularly partner with La Porte schools on workforce development initiatives so it was a logical extension of those efforts for us to advertise on Hire a Slicer,” Grinnell said. “Arconic’s La Porte facility is growing and hiring, and this is one more way we are letting local graduates know there are exciting, high-quality aerospace jobs available right in their hometown.”
Students in Presley’s classes work on job-hunting skills such as resume-writing and job-interview techniques. He also reinforces the importance of coming to work on time and being ready to work.
Local companies have been invited to the classroom to talk with students about the real-world skills they need to be successful.
Presley also works with Indiana WorkOne, the Indiana Center of Workforce Innovations and other job-related organizations.
All students need to prepare for life after high school, he said, whether it involves college, skilled trades or some other career path.
New state standards will soon require students to complete work- or service-based learning projects before they graduate to help them understand the careers they may be considering, and Presley said he hopes to add a mentorship page to the Hire a Slicer program to accommodate the new requirements.
“There are just so many jobs in La Porte students aren’t aware of,” he said.
Students who attend La Porte High School have long call themselves Slicers, a named picked up from U.S. Slicing Machine Co., later Berkel Inc., which manufactured meat-slicing machines in La Porte.
Presley launched Hire A Slicer two years ago after winning Workforce Teacher of the Year. A $1,000 grant came with the honor, which he used to start the website after talking with Principal Ben Tonagel about how to make a lasting impact on students and the community.
This latest upgrade was an important step in the collaboration between the community and its schools, according to Presley, who also made a pitch to employers.
“When you make a choice to hire a Slicer, I think that means something,” he said. “It shows you support our community and value the work we do here at the high school.”
More information: www.hireaslicer.com.