Contribution to Student Development: Goal 4

GOAL

Provide opportunities for business students to earn industry certifications that enhance their job prospects.

Because I do a lot of work in the business community and my husband and I own our own consulting firm, I was starting to hear anecdotal evidence of HR professionals being charged with safety duties of their small to mid-sized company. This struck me as interesting because (a) being married to an OSHA expert I know being in charge of safety is no small feat, and (b) a significant number of HR programs in Minnesota do not have a safety management class, namely Winona State. Sure, there is one chapter on safety in the Management of HR introduction class, but that is merely a cursory mention of safety as an aspect of human resources.

A cursory examination of MNSCU 4-year colleges reveals that four of the seven universities have HR Management programs: Metro State, Mankato, St. Cloud, Winona. Of these four programs, St. Cloud (AACSB accredited) includes a required class in safety and Metro State has a safety class as an elective. It seems the southern Minnesota universities are behind in terms of safety in the HR curriculum. This surprises me because of the amount of manufacturers, agriculture and food production in our region. Both Winona and Mankato have HR majors with no safety curriculum.

Numerous 2-year programs include a safety in the workplace course in their Supervisory Management curriculum. One such program at Western Technical College in LaCrosse, WI is designed for students to obtain an OSHA 30 certification upon successful completion of the course.

osha-at-western-tech

To argue that safety belongs in a two-year technical program and not a four-year HR management program is unwise. While production supervisors and factory managers need a background in OSHA, so too do HR and business professionals for the successful management and compliance reporting of safety regulations. We are missing this crucial part of the curriculum. This is why I have been piloting an OSHA 10 certification for graduating HR seniors and tracking their progress in the workforce for a period of three years.

OSHA 10 class – Spring 2015

I applied for a professional development grant for the first year OSHA 10 class but it was denied. I then approached my Dean for funds and he agreed to fund an outside trainer and book fees. Full disclosure: my husband was the only qualified individual in southeast Minnesota to teach an OSHA 10 class. This was disclosed to the Dean as part of the application for funds as to avoid any conflict of interest. We offered the certification course in the Spring of 2015. Below is a poster that was created with pictures and press release. As part of the course, students agreed to participate in a three-year follow up regarding the course and how it impacted their career.

Click photo to enlarge

2015-promo-poster

OSHA 10 class – Spring 2016

After the successful first OSHA 10 course and wanting to avoid any conflict of interest, I approached WSU’s Director of Safety, Erin Paulson, and asked if she would consider completing the necessary courses to be certified as an OSHA trainer. This investment would save WSU from having to hire an outside consultant to teach the course, a savings of nearly $4000.

Paulson obtained the requisite training in the summer of 2015 and fall of 2015 and agreed to conduct the Spring 2016 OSHA 10 course. Below is Paulson and the class who completed the certification.

group

Preliminary Results

Each fall I email the participants and ask a series of questions:

  1. Are you working?
  2. If you are not working, are you looking for work?
  3. If you are working, did the OSHA 10 certification come up during your interview stage?
  4. Are you involved in any safety-related tasks on the job?

Preliminary data has revealed that the OSHA 10 certification has marginally helped students gain employment. 56% of Spring 2015 students reported that the certification “helped get or keep a job” whereas the recent graduates in Spring 2016 reported this as 22%. Regardless of the immediate reward related to getting or keeping a job, on average 84% of students think the certification is beneficial to student careers. Further, numerous students reported that interviewers asked about the certification and commented on it positively. Once students gained employment, a majority of them were asked to be involved in safety-related committees.

osha-impact-chart

result

Provide opportunities for business students to earn industry certifications that enhance their job prospects.

ongoing

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