Posted on Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Imagine a scenario where Virginia’s Community Colleges work directly with local businesses to train workers for their growing business demands, and then guarantee all of those trained an interview with these companies upon completion. The result is a solid-paying job for the majority of graduates.

Meet Lord Fairfax Community College’s (LFCC) Heavy Equipment Operator (HEO) Guaranteed to Interview Program. Building on a strong relationship between the college and the Heavy Construction Contractors Association (HCCA), dozens of local businesses signed a memorandum of understanding with LFCC promising interviews for any active positions upon a student’s completion of HEO’s FastForward program.

Guaranteed interviews are set up on the last day of class. The event typically includes 10-12 employers and 12-25 students.

The employers begin by providing a high-level overview of their positions before breaking off into private classroom space to talk one-on-one with each student about pay and benefits. The format is a “speed dating” approach, allowing students five minutes with each employer. LFCC staff is available in the halls to meet with students during breaks to give advice, print more resumes, and compare notes.

“When you see it in action it looks like a ballet,” said Carlene Hurdle, Workforce Director at LFCC’s Fauquier Campus. “Students are usually nervous on the front end but after they get through all 10 employers they have so much confidence. Students have accepted positions on the spot and former graduates (who we are also invited to the events) find jobs that are a better fit. It has been hugely beneficial for employers and students to connect to the jobs.”

The partnership between the Contractors Association and LFCC is the secret to the success of this program. HCAA worked closely on HEO curriculum development, including information on career pathways, employability, resume and interview skill building, field trips and guest speakers from the industry.

“The guaranteed interviews help us recruit for the HEO program because it completes the picture. Students think they know what they are getting into but this allows them to see it the whole way through,” said Hurdle.

LFCC has held three HEO Guaranteed to Interview events to date. LFCC’S Manufacturing Technician (MT1) program also includes guaranteed interviews and the college is hoping to expand the model to other programs.

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Amanda Christopher

Amanda Christopher is a graduate of Hollins University and Virginia Commonwealth University. A native of the DC metro area, Amanda worked in public relations for the American Red Cross before joining the Virginia Community College System as the Workforce Communications Coordinator.

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