CONYERS - Solo Cup Company, one of Rockdale County's largest industries, was recently named the Work Ready Business of the Year.
Gov. Sonny Perdue made the announcement during the Work Ready awards ceremony held Oct. 29 in Jefferson County.
"We are certainly honored by the award, but really it's the state that should be commended for making the Work Ready program available to the state's businesses and employers because it's effective," said Tim Lindberg, spokesman for Solo Cup Company.
Under Work Ready, people entering the job market take a voluntary skills test, called "Work Keys," the results of which become part of their credentials. Employers, in turn, include the necessary skill levels for particular positions in their job descriptions.
The program also involves the state's technical schools, which administers Work Keys.
Glenn Sears, director of the Conyers Rockdale Economic Development Council, said Work Keys is like "the ACT (college entrance) test for business and industry. It tests the skills and competencies to do the job."
Solo Cup Company is based in Highland Park, Ill., and is a global manufacturer of single-use food and beverage service products. Locally, the company operates a manufacturing facility in Conyers and a distribution center in Social Circle.
Solo Cup instituted Work Ready into its three facilities in Georgia earlier this year and has been working with DeKalb Technical College. As a result the company has hired more than 70 new employees.
"The Work Ready program helped reduce the training period for the company's new hires, thus increasing productivity," Lindberg said. "It also helped us identify gaps in the skills of those employees who were interested in advancement. The technical colleges we work with provide training to help close those gaps."
The Work Ready program is seen as a tool to attract business and industry to Rockdale and to match jobs that require certain technical skills to the workers who have them.
"Solo Cup serves as a wonderful example of how the Work Ready program can benefit an industry," said Rockdale County Board of Commission Chairman Roy Middlebrooks. "For participating companies, the Work Ready program can result in improved employee selection and advancement procedures, which means higher productivity and quality of work."
Sears said the award given to Solo Cup serves as a solid example that the community is committed to the Work Ready program and committed to local industries.
"This shows we can provide growing skill levels to meet their needs, and we have a qualified employee pipeline to meet their needs in perpetuity," he said.
Sears added that businesses is Conyers have the added advantage of the Rockdale Career Academy, a career and technical high school located on Culpepper Drive. Students enrolled at RCA can earn a high school diploma with a career/technology seal in a certain field, as well as earn college credit while they are still in high school.
"We teach the skills at the Career Academy and that is supplemented at DeKalb Tech," Sears said. "Plus, we can change what we teach at RCA to meet the needs of our industries."