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Computer puts graduates in touch with job market

Finding skilled, reliable people to fill temporary clerical positions isn't an easy job for Nancy Ihasz. But Ihasz, branch manager for Olsten Temporary Services, is hopeful about a new computer system that links her company with qualified high school graduates throughout Hillsborough County.

The pilot program, called WORKLINK, provides the names of high school seniors, their academic records and other information relevant to potential employers. Developed by Educational Testing Services (ETS), the same institution that administers the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), the system went on line last week with about 100 student files.

Area companies such as Olsten, Barnett Bank, GTE-Florida, Metropolitan Life, Sun Bank and Walter Industries have already registered to use the data-base. They must pay a small start-up fee and hourly access fees.

George Elford, WORKLINK project director, said the system arose out of the lack of resources for finding jobs for high school graduates.

"The kids going to college get a lot of attention," he said. "But the ones going straight into the job world are often called the forgotten half, and not without reason. We needed to do something for them."

Although the system is directed toward students who aren't college-bound, Elford said it also is available for any recent graduate who is in need of a summer job or part-time employment.

Ron Selewach, president of Human Resource Management Center Inc., learned of the WORKLINK concept when it was envisioned only as a way to store student information.

"I thought they had the beginnings of a good idea, but I knew that WORKLINK would have limited potential unless you could put the information in the hands of employers," he said.

Using a job-matching system developed by the center, WORKLINK was modified to become accessible to businesses. The students, with the help of their school, submit the information about themselves. Businesses looking to fill a job can telephone the data base or tap into it by computer and find potential employees.

Ihasz said WORKLINK has the potential to make her recruiting job a good deal easier. But she said it could bring benefits to students as well.

"This kind of linkage gives a concrete goal to students who aren't going to college. They'll realize that if they get good grades, through this system they could get a good job," she said.

Elford said the pilot has been successful thus far, and ETS is already looking at establishing similar programs in other cities.