Garrett County Government - Department of Business Development

Chamber and Schools to Partner on Workforce Shortage

Last Updated on Mar 30, 2018 at 8:54am | Workforce Development

Article courtesy of NCWV Media - The Republican. Staff Reports.
The Garrett County Chamber of Commerce announced Monday the creation of a Work Ethic Diploma program in partnership with Garrett County Public Schools.
The purpose of the program is to address workforce challenges by creating a pipeline of prospective employees who possess those quality attributes desired by employers. By meeting established criteria, local students will earn a Work Ethic Diploma upon graduating which will guarantee them job interviews and better wages.
“It is very exciting to announce the creation of the Work Ethic Diploma program,” said Laura Fike, executive director of Garrett Mentors and chairwoman of the Chamber’s Workforce Development Task Force. “The Chamber has been hearing for quite some time how difficult it is for businesses to find employees, especially those that are reliable and will show up regularly with the right attitude. We discovered the Work Ethic Diploma program being utilized by other communities and realized this would be a good fit to address the workforce challenges in Garrett County.”
Garrett County Schools Director of Secondary Education Paul Edwards said he is “excited about connecting the business and education worlds together to mutually benefit our community. This is a great opportunity for our students to realize that things like attendance, leadership, attitude, etc., all matter and that this work ethic is prized in the ‘real world’. I hope this becomes a motivator for students to focus on these intangibles in order to become more marketable in their respective futures.”
The program is launching this spring, and the 2019 graduating classes of Northern and Southern high schools will be the first to have the opportunity to earn a Work Ethic Diploma.
During the launch, the Chamber will be announcing the program and explaining how businesses can become a partner. Two informational sessions for all businesses interested in finding quality employees have been scheduled.
The first will be held at 9 a.m. Tuesday, April 10, at the Casselman Inn. The second session is set for 5:30 p.m. Monday, April 16, at the Oakland Armory.
“The concept for a regional Garrett County Work Ethic initiative was brought to the Garrett County Chamber of Commerce by employers that felt students were not completing high school with the soft skills needed to be successful employees,” said Nicole Christian, Chamber president and CEO. “With the input of area educators, business leaders, and post-secondary representatives, standards were developed to measure work ethic in students.
“The key for the program to be successful is the commitment of the businesses and students. If that happens, it will be mutually beneficial, and everybody wins,” she said.
The Work Ethic Diploma Program is designed to address workforce challenges by:
• Supplying Garrett County employers with skilled workers.
• Producing an emerging workforce prepared to face the challenges of a global marketplace.
• Being a filtering system for hiring and selecting candidates who have demonstrated knowledge, skills, abilities, and commitment to work.
• Reinforcing the value of positive work ethic and commitment to successful employment.
• Recognizing a common, identifiable metric of work habits.
• Developing and improving the soft skills of Garrett County students.
Local high school students participating in the program are guaranteed an interview as long as they meet job-related qualifications for open positions.
Those who earn a Work Ethic Diploma are not only guaranteed an interview, but will receive a higher starting wage if hired.
To qualify for a Work Ethic Diploma, students must earn a minimum of points in the following criteria: Discipline Standard, Attendance Standard, Absence Standard, Work Experience, Community Service/Internship Project Standard, Overall Grade Point Average Standard, Team Work Standard, Drug Free (optional), Exit Interview (seniors only.)
Students will be receiving information from their principals and guidance counselors in the coming months.
For businesses interested in learning more about the program, attend one of the aforementioned informational sessions or contact Christian at 301-387-8745 or at You can register for the informational sessions online at or by calling Holly Lane at 301-387-6171.