Stafford County Economic Development: Norman leads JAG-K students to better job skills

Pratt Tribune, Nov. 10, 2021 – Click to read the original article

Kathleen Norman, Assistant Director of Stafford County Economic Development, has an office in St. John at 311 N. Broadway, but lately she has been getting out to surrounding communities to facilitate Empowerment Training with the Jobs of America’s Graduates-Kansas (JAG-K) Program. She will wrap up a nine-week pilot session at Stafford High School in early December that has been keeping her busy for several weeks now.

“The goal of JAG-K is to help students facing various barriers to success, overcome those barriers, graduate from high school, and get on a successful career path,” Norman said. “The class supports students in their academics, helps them explore career pathways, and teaches them life skills.”

According to Norman, Empowerment Training is an emotional intelligence curriculum developed by Twin Cities R!SE (TCR) in Minnesota. It is what makes TCR’s workforce development training program highly successful. 

“For many people, finding a job isn’t the biggest challenge, keeping it is,” she said. “There is a skills gap. People lack ‘soft skills’ or rather essential skills like punctuality, reliability, good attitude, proper hygiene. What I hear from employers is that they can’t find workers who will show up and do the job.” 

Emotional intelligence is the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and handle interpersonal relationships with empathy. It is needed for both personal and professional success.  

JAG-K Career Specialist Deyoe. said that Empowerment Training has been really valuable for the students so far.

“Being able to navigate their thoughts and feelings is important for self-management, working toward their goals, and their ability to appropriately interact with others,” she said. 

Empowerment Training helps individuals understand the connection between what they believe, what they think and feel, and how they behave — empowering them to see what’s in their control and make choices that help them achieve their long-term goals. 

Norman has a background in workforce development. She completed the year-long path to become a Certified Empowerment Facilitator in spring 2019. Stafford County Economic Development strives to support business and industry which includes strengthening the workforce. 

Funding for this pilot program came from the Community Action Lab at Kansas University and Golden Belt Community Foundation.