Last week we had a great company meeting via Zoom!
Was great to get all of us connected. We did it last month and everyone really liked it. Gave us an opportunity to share some updates, successes, and talk about what we can do to give back during these times. What I have observed over the past 90 days with regards to this team and the work we do is truly amazing. Two weeks into the shelter our entire company went remote and it was because of our leaders: Kim, Marian, Kelly, Chad, Jason, and Sheena, that they were able to pull this off so effectively. We continue to show our “why”: Improving Employability Every Day. Other topics we covered included:
- Pre/Post Production – Is completing more courses and domains then they did last year. Working together, being resourceful, and a big shout out to Natasha Nelson for plowing through IC3 (newest update) last week, which had to be prioritized due to a new exam release coming out in the fall. I know this one, she had short notice and Marian said she rocked it. Natasha, thank you – having people like you in production is going to enable us to shoot more courses in a year than ever before.
- Career Pathways utilizing PDP – This is going to be a game changer the Know Your Talents team (specifically Kiley Leonard) has worked with key members from LearnKey (Jason, Ben, Beth, and Jacob) to build job models representative of LearnKey career pathways. Incorporating this into the learning experience for our students and teachers will be another one of our “secret sauces” when it comes to students leveraging their talents and acquiring important employability skills.
- Leadership Development – I am thrilled with the progress our leadership team is making with identifying true metrics, or what are being termed as “rocks” for each team and leader. As I stated in the last update and newsletter our teams are focused on getting better. All LearnKey employees participated in the Organizational Effectiveness Survey (OES) and most recently quarterly reviews. Based on your feedback, the LearnKey leadership team, working with the Know Your Talents team, these initiatives I believe are going to make a big difference long term. One of the big things that has come out of this is developing a recognition program for all employees when we reach our goals on a monthly basis. So we can all celebrate. Additionally, I am starting to work with another wave of team members to start our own internal leadership development program. It pleases me that we are truly doing what we told you we were going to do. A lot more work- but the path to success is becoming real clear. Our “why” will always be Improving Employability Every Day, but what are some of our Big Hair Audacious Goals, better known as “BHAG”, that can tie to a true vision? Well, those are in the works and we will begin to share next month. So stay tuned.
- LearnKey K-12 – We just shared the most incredible promotional video about LearnKey in the classroom that includes multiple interviews of teachers and business partners. This project was just completed by Kim Johnson and Seth Magers very grateful that teachers like our courses.
- How can LearnKey give back? We have kept you up to date on the free course offer for our schools and students and as of last week 1300 schools and 19K students took advantage of this great offer. Well, now we want to take it a step further to those who are unemployed in the states where we have a presence: AZ and UT. We have hired a PR firm to help us with the messaging and our plan is to roll this out sometime in July.
LearnKey in the coming months will be exploring a course for learners in the “new environment” that will focus on topics long overdue with regards to: equal justice, understanding where racism remains in 21st century, civics, understanding govt., social media etiquette, cultural empathy, social responsibility – what is expected of citizens, finding truth and facts in media, these are just to name a few topics. We are already in collaboration with an author and will be doing our due diligence and promise to keep you posted on our progress. Again, the hope is this is our way of giving back during these changing times.
Before I ended the meeting, as a leader of this company, it would not have been right if I didn’t bring up some major uneasiness going on right now in our country. There is a tremendous amount of frustration, hurtfulness, and fear. The past 90 days has forced us to shelter, put the US in a recession, and exposed some true weaknesses in hospital, law, govt., and supply chain. Will we get through this? Yes, because we are the United States. Will there be scares, more frustration and stress? Yes, there will be. Do we need better leadership? Yes, we do.
I share that my goal is to focus on what I can control: Love my family & friends, be the best leader I can be for LearnKey, and make sure that we as a team respect one another each and every day. You see my quotes that over the last year have been primarily focused on one word: “Respect”. This is the one thing that I will demand from myself first and then to each and every one of you. Just so you know as soon as we feel more comfortable with travel between AZ and UT Lori and I will hit the road to visit every UT office as soon as we can.
Again, I tip my hat to the entire LearnKey family for working as one team and truly Improving Employability every day.
One of the greatest assets LearnKey has is our people who drive a great culture. Years of reinforcing our core values, Ease, Value, & Trust, the dividends continue to pay to this day. We know we are fortunate to have awesome team members, especially during these times. Which is why it is so important to celebrate and recognize individuals and teams for their accomplishments.
Our newest quarterly Key Contributor Award Winner Annalise Sluder, LearnKey’s lead writer, is a perfect example. We were pretty excited about launching a new course earlier this year (non IT) covering Communication Skills for Business (CSB), one of the first communication skills certification courses of its kind.
Annalise took extra steps to ensure it was a success. Her manager Marion had this to say: “Always a ‘can do’ attitude and what really stuck out is since taking the lead writing position she has stepped up to better the writing process, trained other team members in Natasha, and M’lissa, then got certified in the CSB course to make sure the workbook and tests were the best they could be. She truly lives our core values, ease, value and trust.”
LearnKey’s Senior Instructor, Jason Manibog had this to say: “We put Annalise in the Lead Writer role and man, has she taken on the lead, with an emphasis on lead. She has steered the writing in a perfect direction, organized all the standards, communicates and adjusts perfectly to our standards and the needs for each course, and she has put anyone who touches writing tasks in the best position to succeed. I know I’ve had to worry far less about how tests/workbooks are as we the authors give her the ‘look’ needed for a course and she takes it from there.”
Our Chief Employability Officer, Beth Ciaramello said something that was so sweet after everyone else chimed in. She said, “Plus, Annalise has an incredible attitude and treats everyone with impeccable kindness.”
That said it all and we sure did enjoy celebrating your award during our all-hands company meeting this past Wednesday, April 29th, 2020!
Bravo Annalise congratulations we are blessed to have you on our team. Every quarter this award gets harder and harder to award as there are so many of our team members who are always going above and beyond to reinforce our “Why”: Improving Employability Every Day.
Hello again. Before I dive into the subject of the title above, allow me to personally wish all of you the best of health physically, mentally, and emotionally during these trying times. I take encouragement in seeing all sorts of news stories about those out there helping their fellow humans as much as possible. I know when I go to the store, I’m saying an extra thank you to every employee I see.
On to our subject. Whether you’re a college student, high school student, or adult learner and whether you are learning through our courseware or some basic subject courseware, learning online and in at least some kind of isolation is far different than learning in a traditional classroom. Having taught in both situations the past 20 years, I have three observations/hints that will hopefully help with the online learning modality:
- Mix it up
Online learning has many facets. Sure, you have the video portion as the focal point of the course, but many of these online courses have other materials, like quizzes, textbooks, and, for computer programs, the programs themselves. Change up the learning mode frequently. Many of our courses have a suggested lesson plan/study guide in the back of our workbooks that break up the lessons into video, practice, and workbook time. Use those as your guide. Too long on one medium and you will start to wander. When you feel yourself needing to mix it up, do it.
- Pace yourself
How long is a high school class session, typically? 45 minutes? 55 minutes? (It was 55 for me back in high school, I think. That was a long time ago.) Match each study session for each subject/course to that time. It is very difficult for anyone to be in learning mode for too long without a break. If you are not bound by time constraints, here is a good rule to follow: If you are starting to lose focus on what you are trying to learn, take a break. Get up, walk around, get a drink of water, do something. Now, you may be thinking, “but I study for 2-3 hours straight all the time.” Good for you if you can do that. But studying is different than learning. Studying, for the most part, is a reinforcement of that which you have learned. It takes much more intense concentration to learn something new and one’s attention span for that is usually smaller. If you don’t believe me, try learning something new (like cooking for me) for two hours straight and see how much you remember after the first 30-45 minutes. There are numerous articles online that will back this up and I invite you to research this if you wish.
- Test yourself
As you mix up your learning and pace your learning, test yourself often. I don’t mean take a quiz or take a test here. I mean see if you can do that which you have learned, if applicable. Let me give you two examples: If you just finished watching a section of a Word course on how to build a table, open Word and build a table or two and put some data in there you can relate to. If you just finished watching a section on adding adjustment layers in Photoshop, open Photoshop, get a picture to edit, and make your own adjustments to the picture. Many of these certification exams are hands-on, meaning that you must perform tasks. What better way to get some practice than to create and edit a project that relates to something you like? Just to drive the point home, when I needed to refresh my Adobe Premiere skills before teaching the course last year, I edited some footage of something to which I can relate: my golf swing. If only I could edit the swing itself…
I digress. The point is: learning online is indeed different from learning in the classroom but, absent of a live instructor, you can make the rhythm of learning online make you feel as if you are in a classroom, through mixing up the learning, going at a reasonable pace, and testing yourself often through getting some hands-on practice.
Our quarterly award (Key Contributor) is something we are very proud of at LearnKey. This person or team is recognized for exceeding expectations and or demonstrating our core values (Ease, Value and Trust). Our newest recipient is someone who has been with us for almost 5 ½ years, and here is an amazing number that we want all of you to know about her: two seventy-two (272). That number, 272, represents the total number of globally recognized industry certifications (i.e. Microsoft, CompTIA, Cisco, Adobe, etc.) her students achieved in 2019. Take that number, along with her “can do” attitude, and you have our one and only Mrs. Susan Somerville.
Susan is Senior Student Services Representative. Someone who gets to see first-hand how our programs can touch and change people’s lives. She handles anywhere between 60-80 students at a time, helping them complete their online training on time, practice & study for exams, assisting them in coordinating any special tutoring needs, documenting and distributing monthly reports to counselors, the list goes on and on. She is someone who is always smiling and looking at the positive in everything, even when she has to give a student some “tough love” and remind them of their “Why” and motivator to complete our online programs. Her work directly impacts our students and their success in achieving their end goal: gaining employment. She has changed many people’s lives.
Here is what some of the leaders who nominated her had to say: “Susan has an amazing ability to help her students’ progress and is a pro at having the ‘hard conversations’ with them.” Another person said “she’s very helpful in our Cedar office, has a wonderfully positive attitude, and strives each day to help her students succeed.” Another added “she truly lives our mission of improving employability for her students, every day.”
When we presented Susan with the award she was actually spending the day in our St. George, UT office sharing best practices to some of our newer student service representatives so they can do their jobs as effectively.
Congratulations Susan for a job well done. Keep being present, doing your job, and making LearnKey better every day!
At LearnKey we like to start the new year fast. So 2020 is here and we are super happy we just completed one of our most important goals: LearnKey’s new Certification and Support Program catalog. This truly is our calling card, as it gives you the opportunity to learn and access the great courses, career pathways/programs, and support we offer through our national online vocational school and education as a service business we provide to businesses and strategic partners.
For 2020 we expanded and added over twenty (20) enhanced career pathways with multiple levels (i.e. entry & advanced) as our research continues to validate that these are high in-demand jobs that lead to upward mobility careers. Specifically, in the areas of Cyber-Security, Help Desk, Networking, Cloud, Programming, and System Administration.
We hope you enjoy our catalog as we are very proud on how we present our offerings, products, and services to those schools, counselors, and organizations who want to help learners get jobs. Another skill in demand is communication, and a course we are pleased to be releasing this month is Communication Skills for Business, which maps to one of the first globally recognized industry certifications offered through Certiport.
We at LearnKey believe our catalog is the purest example of who we are, what we do, and why we do it.
Of course everyone knows our “Why” – Improving Employability Every Day
Last week was a whirlwind! It started Friday, December 6th in our St. George corporate office. Both my wife and I were excited to meet our newest team member Shelbie Miller and catch up with recent “newbies” Paula Terry and Camille Wasek. We feel so fortunate to have such an amazing team.
Saturday morning we attended a team building event assisting in the move of Kimberly Johnson “aka” the collector! It was so exciting as she moved into her first new home! A beautiful place and we could not be more happy for Kim and her family. That night we had our holiday party for both St. George and Cedar City offices at Rusty’s Ranch House in Cedar City (see picture). What a turn out and congrats to Jessica Staples and Jordan Cook – winners of our Left, Right, Center Challenge.
Monday, December 9th we met with our St. George team members and I survived a BIG PRANK whereas Mr. Jared Baker decided to scare me with one of his friends who is an Arizona Sheriff, pretending to arrest him by chasing him out the building. All I can think about is how I plan to get back at him. What is that saying “Paybacks are a…”
Tuesday was fun filled as our LearnKey leadership team was sharing their end of year results and 2020 goals for next year. We are so proud as they will be presenting these findings to our board later this month. WE HAVE HAD A GREAT YEAR. That day we also did a “team building workout” with the entire staff lead by our Chief Employability Officer Ms. Beth Ciaramello. It was eye opening for all of us and a great way to improve our communication skills.
Wednesday we spent the majority of the day in our Cedar office again Ms. Ciaramello facilitated an awesome team building workout. Then it was off to Orem, UT.
Thursday we celebrated our partnership with Certiport providing lunch at their offices, followed up with a dinner that included both Certiport and GMetrix partners from their respective leadership teams. Our ask was – What can we do better to make the partnership stronger! The feedback was positive and with a focus of “keep doing what you are doing now because it is working”. Music to my ears.
Friday morning was spent with our GMetrix partner checking out their new offices and then lunch with one of our fearless leaders Marian Eckley. She has done an amazing job leading our entire production team this past year.
Saturday, December 14th, we had our holiday celebration with our Salt Lake City team at Carvers Steak & Seafood House in Sandy, UT (see picture). The service and food was fantastic but the company was incredible.
Throughout the entire trip the observations were consistent while the teams acknowledged we had success and growth this year, better than any of the past years, ALL THEY WANT TO DO IS GET BETTER. You see that is the mentality and culture of our teams always wanting to do better.
This week we end our holiday road trip with celebrations in Scottsdale with our Brighton College team members and the Know Your Talents team. Which again, will focus on a look back and more effort towards getting better.
My wife made it very clear as her observation was we should feel very blessed to have so many great people on the same page, with the same focus- HOW CAN WE GET BETTER.
Now that is a true team.
When you have great people it drives the engine of success for your company. Our newest Key Contributor Award Winner- Jacob Gardner is right at the center of that engine. Because of his work ethic over the past four (4) years, respect he has gained from his peers, he epitomizes our core values; Ease, Value and Trust. Every day he comes in and seamlessly does his job better than anyone can on the planet. Technical support, computer ordering (a big part of his job that has doubled over the past year), testing, telecom support he does it all and always as if it is no big deal.
We always talk about our “Why”- Improving Employability Every Day. Jacob knows the work he does directly ties to helping our customers: counselors, K-12 students, adult learners and veterans gain the key skills and industry certifications they need to improve their employability skills.
Just like last quarters Key Contributor Award Winner , a team member who is well respected, we are very fortunate to have him as part of our technical support team working in at our headquarters in St. George, Utah.
Please join me in congratulating Jacob for a job well done.
About two months ago, I was having a conversation with our CEO and he said, “Brother (he calls me brother, how nice), wouldn’t it be nice if we could do a soft skills (meaning non-tech) course that could help improve communication skills for business? Is there a cert on that?”
At the time, the answer was yes, I could come up with a course but no, there was no official certification for this. But wouldn’t you know it: two weeks later, Certiport announced a new Communication Skills for Business (CSB) certification that will be out later this fall. Great minds think alike.
We, as you well know, are dedicated to improving employability every day. But that doesn’t just mean tech skills and being able to do a COUNTIFS function in Excel. Far from it. Strong employability requires strong communication skills, and this is where this course fits in to the overall employability umbrella.
Every so often we decide to change things up and bring in a guest author to do a course. For this course, we are very excited to have Jennifer Stubblefield, the reigning Certiport Educator of the Year, bring you this course. Jennifer has been a business teacher for over 25 years and is a champion Microsoft Office Master instructor as well. She understands both the tech side and the communication side of employment and it shows in this course.
We filmed the course last week and we are very excited to bring you this course. This course is like no other in that though the exam is heavily topic-based, our course is scenario-based and interactive while teaching to the core exam topics of
- Describe Basic Communication Principles
- Plan for Effective Communication
- Apply Best Practices for Creating Business Deliverables
- Deliver Your Message
- Receive Communications
- Analyze Communication Scenarios
This course applies to both those looking for jobs and those already in a career. I was going to say this course applies to those looking to improve communication skills, but let’s be real: everyone could use improvement in this area. And Jennifer covers this literally from head to toe (as in wardrobe for an interview – I knew a tie is supposed to come down to a belt buckle, but did you?). She also points out that whoever runs the front desk at a company is watching interview candidates from the moment they walk in and will divulge what is seen to the hiring decision-makers. A good reminder for all of us.
The truth is, we as a filming crew learned a lot even though improving our communication skills wasn’t on our minds when Jennifer arrived to film this course. For example, did you know there is a big difference in meaning between having a meeting in a L-shaped seating arrangement vs. sitting across from someone? I didn’t. Now, I do. I learned a lot about improving business communication skills just in the three days it took us to film this course. And I talk for a living. So, if I can learn a lot, so can you, no matter where you are on your career path
For a company to be on the same page it has helped a great deal that everyone knows our “Why” – Improving Employability Every Day. Our newest Key Contributor Award recipient Beth Ciaramello lives it every day as our Chief Employability Officer.
Beth’s job is to connect our students to employers, work study programs, and get them job ready/hired. She is also quite worldly as one of her personal accomplishments last year was traveling abroad working remotely.
She is being recognized for taking on three major projects, creating and implementing a ProScan to Placement process (P2P), finding new great talent to support the new process, taking over Brighton Colleges Employability activities, and taking over all recruiting and hiring for LearnKey staff (yes we are hiring).
Her “can do attitude” has resulted in two awesome new team members (Jeff & Wendy) based in Scottsdale, who have learned the P2P process and fully implemented it. We now have improved tracking and placements for both Brighton and LearnKey. Additionally, Beth continues to recruit awesome talent and truly displays our core values (ease, value, and trust).
The value she brings to our internal teams and external customers is exceptional. A great example is a recent partnership she has established with a new employer to our programs. This has required a lot of moving parts to come together and she has stayed with it all the way.
As a leader she knows our business and students as well as anyone else. One of her greatest qualities is the ease in which she works with everyone. Always willing to listen, offer advice and support no matter what. What that has left along the way is a tremendous amount of trust between Beth and everyone she interacts with on our teams.
We are so fortunate to have you on our team. Congratulations Beth for always keeping our Why – Improving Employability Every Day front and center for all of us.
My father taught me many years ago to learn a trade or in-demand skill, as well as always have a plan “B”. In this day and age that is so important, especially for those in high school, going to college, or adults trying to obtain a well-paying job. It just so happens I took that advice back in the 80’s and learning my first skill/certification was how to use American Airlines “Sabre” reservation system. See, my trade was working in a travel agency. I learned reservations, ticketing, operations, business development, and sales.
Knowing and getting certified in multiple reservation systems like Sabre, United Airlines Apollo system, TWA’s PARS, and a few others allowed me to go from doing reservations to becoming a team lead, then operations supervisor, to Director, then V.P./General Manager. Yes, I was climbing the corporate ladder, even ran start-ups over my 30-year career.
But it all started with making sure I had skills. Now, in this day and age “first jobs” are on the cusp of being eliminated this article that speaks to “AI is replacing first jobs” which is very concerning but not surprising due to advances in technology. So now more than ever, I stress to everyone learn a skill/trade, get certified, so you can have a fall back plan “B”. College degrees are important, however, in today’s world so is getting certified in many fields such as: Technology, Allied Health, STEM, Legal, and many more.
The good news is its not just me advocating the importance of certifications. A recent Forbes article just came out titled “non-degree certificates and certifications are fast, cheap and effective”. This is a great read and while they are not necessarily cheap it validates how important non-degree certificates and globally-recognized industry certifications are in today’s workforce. Here are some key highlights of the article & survey which are sure worth sharing:
- Adults with a short-term certificate or industry-based certification were more likely to be employed (85%) than adults without such credentials (78%).
- Adults holding certificates reported their median annual income to be $45,000, compared to $30,000 for adults without any certificates.
- Among the non-degree adults with a certificate or certification, two-thirds were inclined to recommend the educational path they had followed to others, compared to less than half of the non-degreed adults without such credentials.
- Among certificate/certification holders, 60% believed their educational experiences made them more marketable to potential employers, compared to 44% of those who had not earned certificates or certifications.
At LearnKey we are all about “improving employability every day” and we do that through ensuring our message around “Learn a skill, Practice as part of your preparation, and get Certified” is loud and clear. The world is changing and now more then ever, you need to have a plan “B” and I have my father to thank for that!