Monthly Archives: August 2013

Western States CAT Intern Gains Valuable Work Experience

This article originally was published in the Western States CAT company newsletter. It is republished here with permission.

By Neal Elliott, Meridian Service Manager

We have had the privilege over the past few years to partner with the Idaho Department of Labor in providing high school students valuable work experience in the form of summer internships.  We would like to briefly highlight this summer’s student intern, Samim Mohammad Aziz, who comes to us from Boise School District’s Dennis Tech Center Diesel Program. Samim is a hard-working and intelligent young man with a unique story. Here’s a little more on his background and his intern experience this summer.

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter, Samim Mohammad Aziz and Neal Elliott

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter, Samim Mohammad Aziz and Neal Elliott

Samim’s family fled Afghanistan when he was 7 years old to Russia. After spending 8 years there, they then moved to the Ukraine to find work for his father. Samim and his family have lived in the US now for over 3 years. Samim always worked with his father to help support the family while still going to school and handling the challenges associated with moving to several different countries.

Samim holds a 3.8 GPA, and also speaks 5 languages fluently while learning to be a diesel technician at the Dennis Center. One of his many goals is to win the Gold Medal next spring in the State Skills USA Diesel competition held at the WSECO Meridian branch… he placed 5th last year.  He also hopes to be accepted into the CAT Think BIG Training Program next fall.

During Samim’s internship, the Idaho Department of Labor came by to check in on his progress and see what we were teaching him. The week after our meeting with them, I was contacted by John Russ from the Meridian IDOL Branch.

He notified us that out of 200 students and their associated companies that they had met with, that Samim had been selected to speak with Gov. Butch Otter about the experience and how the program was benefitting him.

This young man’s remarkable life and experience was what grabbed their attention, along with the ongoing commitment that WSECO has made to their communities. Governor Otter was very impressed and pleased with Samim’s story and also to WSECO’s dedication to educating our youth on career opportunities.

What a memorable and rewarding experience for everyone involved. If you would like to learn more about getting involved with a summer internship through your local Dept of Labor, please contact Employment Coordinator, Cameron Pickett at (208) 884-2233.

Workshop Helps Youth Learn Why Soft Skills are Important

Employers have been increasingly voicing concerns about job applicants – especially young ones – having basic job skills – what’s called soft skills.

The Idaho Department of Labor took up their cause recently with a workshop in Pocatello to help young people, typically first-time job seekers, find work. And a major focus was on the following soft skills:

  • Showing up for work on time
  •  Proper dress and grooming
  •  Working well with others
  •  Showing initiative
  •  The ability to follow directions
  •  Strong written and verbal communication skills
  • Being polite
Stacy Miller, Mary Johnson and Kim Smith talk about why soft skills are important to employers.

Stacy Miller, Mary Johnson and Kim Smith discuss why soft skills are important to employers.

“Soft skills are one of the key factors which can move a young person from being a job seeker to an employee,” department Regional Economist Dan Cravens told the 30 people who took part in the workshop. “We had many employers and parents in the area request that we do a workshop like this so that local youth can better understand how they need to act in order to find a job, and do well at it.”

Many of the 16-to-24-year-olds face the same challenges young people across the country face – unemployment rates over 16 percent. Unemployment rates would probably be higher for this age group, but too many young job seekers have just given up hope of finding work.
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From One Job Seeker to Another: Be Proactive

Josh Florea

Josh Florea

Josh Florea was 24 when Welco of Idaho closed its Naples cedar mill in December 2009. He had worked there since he was 19 and now needed  a new career path.

Josh knew he wanted a career in law enforcement and applied to POST (Peace Officers Standard Training) Academy.

When he was not accepted for enrollment, Josh went back to the drawing board and came up with a new plan. In early 2010 workers laid off from Welco became eligible to apply for Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) to assist with retraining and re-employment.

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Job Seekers: Overcoming the Myths of Older Workers

Being told they are overqualified or they won’t stick around long are just a few of the perceptions  job seekers over the age of 50 find themselves having to overcome during their search.

Bud Swanson, a workforce consultant for the Idaho Department of Labor’s Boise office, shared his ideas to help mature workers learn how to focus on their strengths and what they have to offer an employer.

Idaho Department of Labor workforce consultant Bud Swanson can help older job seekers focus on their strengths in their job search.

Idaho Department of Labor workforce consultant Bud Swanson can help older job seekers focus on their strengths in their job search.

What are some of the myths about older adult workers and how can a job seeker combat them?

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Economic Activity in Idaho in August

Here is a roundup of economic news compiled by the Idaho Department of Labor in August:

Northern Idaho

  • Sandpoint’s Tamarack Aerospace Group broke ground in early August for its production plant and flight school. Tamarack is building its future on patented active winglet technology, which dramatically increases the fuel efficiency and range of a winged aircraft. The $250,000 winglet kit can be used to upgrade a smaller jet for increased range rather than purchasing a more expensive model. Within a few years, the company plans to have around 140 employees. Its expansion will begin once its products are certified and ready to ship, a process officials aim to accomplish by September 2014.

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Attending a Job Fair? Six Tips For Success

A job fair is a great way for an employer with multiple job openings to meet several prospective employees at once.

So how can a job seeker stand out in the crowd? Workforce consultants from Idaho Department of Labor offices in Boise and Meridian have these tips to share.

How should a job seeker prepare for a job fair?

  • Research the companies that are participating. Learn more about their business and job openings and be prepared to answer any questions that may come up at the fair.
  • Practice a 15-second personal commercial including your name, your profession, occupation or the job you are seeking, your experience and a unique selling point (what sets you apart).
  • Arrange for childcare. You will be meeting employers and they will want to talk with you without any distractions.

How should a job seeker dress for a job fair?

Levi Sliwoski came to a job fair in May at the Boise local office dressed for an interview.

Levi Sliwoski came to a job fair in May at the Boise local office dressed for an interview.

First impressions leave lasting impressions. Dress for success and as if you are going to an interview. This includes making sure your shoes are shined and your clothes are pressed and unwrinkled.

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Lack of Available Housing for Workforce Concerns Rural Counties

housing status

Economic development officials in Clearwater, Idaho and Lewis counties are concerned about the availability of workforce housing, especially in Cottonwood, Craigmont, Kamiah, Nezperce, Orofino and Pierce.

Some leading employers say their new hires often run into trouble finding housing in the region. A few workers end up turning a job down because of it. Since those recruited from outside the area typically are highly skilled such as machinists, welders, engineers and technicians, a lack of housing can lead to production losses for businesses.

Nightforce Optics, the Orofino riflescope manufacturer that now employs about 100 people, has encountered difficulty finding housing for machinists and professionals it tried to hire.

The National Guard Youth ChalleNGe program, preparing to open in Pierce in January, wound up advertising in the local newspaper for information about homes available for sale or lease to the employees it will hire.
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Two Indicators Show Soft Idaho Construction Employment

National trends show positive job growth, and the job picture is improving in Idaho as well. But construction employment continues to lag. In 2012 Idaho’s construction employment was just 34 jobs higher than 2011 – and that was the annual first increase since 2007.

construction shiftshare


After an unremarkable 2003, Idaho’s construction employment started  to boom in 2004. That year more than half of Idaho’s construction job growth was in excess of what national job trends generally or in construction would have indicated. More than 1,800 jobs were created above the 1,342 jobs that national trends would explain.

In 2005 national trends would have added 2,034 jobs in Idaho’s construction industry. But Idaho actually added 3,250, and the gap would only  increase. National trends would explain 2,067 new jobs in 2006 but Idaho  added 6,961. Seventy percent of the total increase was unique to Idaho.
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Wages Vary By Type, Degree of Education

Education is important in determining the kind of job a worker can get, and, as importantly if not more so, how much it pays.

But while more education has benefits, not all occupations requiring a higher level of education pay a higher wage. The reverse is also true – some occupations requiring little education provide decent paychecks.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics assigns a minimum level of education required for each occupation. The wage paid to the 10th percentile of workers in each occupation is used as the entry level wage for that occupation. Although the wage paid to the 10th percentile of workers is not exactly the entry wage for each occupation, it is a legitimate stand-in for entry level pay.

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