While the emphasis remains on completing the mission of destroying the chemical weapons stockpile, workers are getting help planning their futures as closure begins to take shape at the Blue Grass plant.
“We want to help them, we want to see a high placement rate,” said Lori Jones, total workforce planning manager, Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass (BPBG). “I think an 80% placement rate is reasonable.”
With one of its goals being to keep as many members of the well-trained workforce as possible in the region, BPBG implemented several programs.
The services include help with planning for future jobs; an internal web page with information about training opportunities, county and state resources, and job fairs; a survey to determine interest in developing or enhancing skills; and working with state and local agencies to coordinate training opportunities.
“Many workers haven’t looked at their résumés in years,” said Jones. “It can be something as simple as practicing interviews. For others who may have a job offer, it may be making a call to see if they can wait a month or two to finish work here.”
Financial incentives tied to meeting or exceeding target dates for completing chemical weapons destruction are making a difference, leading some workers to be more willing to stay until the end, Jones said of the discussions she has had.
Eventually, some of the 1,500 employees at the Blue Grass plant will retire. Many want to find new jobs in the area, whether their current position runs out in a few months or a few years. Others are willing to move for a new opportunity.
“Everyone has their own ideas about what’s best for them,” said Jones. “Workers have been given information that ties their positions to different milestones, so they have a pretty good idea of when their job runs out.
“When it comes to jobs, we are building relationships with employers throughout the region and companies across the country. Employees are truly surprised at the lengths we will go to help them plan their future,” Jones said.