Right Person. Right Job. It’s Creating Sparks!

May 11, 2016

Innovation isn’t just about bits and bytes. It’s about finding creative solutions to everyday challenges. Meet Danny Philipi, Human Resources Consultant at the Wamego Caterpillar Work Tools facility. Danny, along with the rest of the Wamego team, is helping Caterpillar win the battle for skilled welders. Through a unique partnership, local businesses, technical colleges and the Department of Commerce are working together to address a skills gap that exists today. 

How does it work? Employers like Caterpillar identify job-specific skills needed to fill a skills gap, and the Department of Commerce extends a request for proposal to area schools for competitive bids. The selected school then partners with employers to tailor the training program. Once the training curriculum is set, companies utilize their regular hiring process, and selected candidates receive offers contingent upon successful completion of the program. The candidates attend the training program for free, and they receive industry credentials and college credits. It’s a win-win for everyone. 

“This program changes the old recruitment model of selecting workers from a pool of candidates who already have skilled trade traits. It allows us to focus on getting the right person for the right job and give them the opportunity to learn skills unique to our business prior to their first day as a Caterpillar employee,” says Danny. Participation in Workforce AID is just one component of the Wamego facility’s effort to attract and retain the best talent. 

By changing the philosophy of first hiring the right person and teaching required skills prior to employment, the Wamego facility has shortened the amount of time it takes a new welder to become fully productive and has increased the retention rate and engagement of new hires. Many of the successful Workforce AID participants express appreciation for the program and their opportunity to begin a career as Caterpillar welders. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation (USCCF) produced a video highlighting the Kansas program, and Danny is featured in the video. 

Danny is also leading the way on a similar effort with the Ft. Riley Career Skills program – focusing on soldiers who are within 180 days of transitioning out of the military and who have an interest in remaining in the area. Similar to the Workforce AID Program, successful candidates will receive offers contingent upon completion of a training program, and after they transition out of the Army, they will begin Caterpillar careers as full-time welders. More than 3,500 soldiers transition out of Ft. Riley each year, and it’s estimated that 500 of those would like to remain in the area. The Career Skills program will provide an opportunity to utilize exceptional talent with Caterpillar-specific weld expertise.


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