By KEVIN L. GREEN [email protected] | Posted: Monday, March 30, 2015
The work involved with getting Henry County certified as a Work Ready community continues with the staff at the New Castle-Henry County Economic Development Corporation taking the lead.
“We are well on our way and still moving ahead and gaining momentum to achieve the goals set for Henry County,” NCHCEDC Special Projects Coordinator Penny York said. “We are currently visiting employers and signing them up as a show of support toward reaching our goal to become a Certified Work Ready Community. We have to meet certain requirements and reach specific goals with ACT to obtain the status which, in turn, lights us up on a map to designate we are work ready.”
The idea of the program is to improve the skills and work readiness of the local workforce while providing businesses with a reliable way to identify skilled job candidates. A key to the initiative is the National Careers Readiness Certificate, which is designed to measure and close skills gaps among workers and job seekers. The NCRC certifies essential skills needed for workplace success: reading for information, applied mathematics and locating information.
“The goal of becoming an ACT Work Ready Community is to connect job opportunities via a common language — the NCRC — to increase community wealth,” York said.
According to Acacia St. John, associate director of performance and communications with WorkOne, being Work Ready certified is important to a community because it allows people involved with economic development to prove to site selectors and others that their communities are, in reality, ready to work.
“It provides the proof, rather than anecdotal information,” St. John said.
York agreed and added, “Becoming a Work Ready community is a nationally recognized designation. By obtaining a National Career Readiness Certificate accreditation, site selectors will be able to make a determination as to the abundance and availability of our workforce. We must continue to set ourselves apart with new initiatives to become more attractive to the business community.”
The process hinges on members of the workforce successfully completing WorkKeys tests offered at local WorkOne offices.
“Anyone can participate in this initiative by taking WorkKeys tests for a National Career Readiness Certificate. Area employers like to see candidates that have taken the WorkKeys tests and some employers use this as part of their hiring process,” St. John said.
There is no cost to take the WorkKeys tests. Members of the workforce are encouraged to visit the Henry County WorkOne office to inquire about signing up for the National Career Readiness Certificate.
St. John said this effort is picking up speed throughout east-central Indiana and said that is good news for the counties involved.
“We cannot stress enough the excitement that our region is building around Work Ready Community initiatives. At this time, only eastern Indiana has counties in the program from the State of Indiana. Henry and other counties in the region stepped up to the plate to address economic and workforce challenges and are doing something about it. We commend the New Castle-Henry County Economic Development Corporation for their leadership on this initiative,” she said.
Eastern Indiana is the only area of the state that has counties involved in this initiative. Active counties include Delaware, Randolph, Rush and Wayne. Rush County recently was certified and Wayne County has made a great deal of progress. The Economic Development Corporation of Wayne County sponsored WorkKeys testing for Nettle Creek Schools to test their junior and senior high school students from Hagerstown High School March 16. More than 115 students tested.
Fayette and Henry counties have also been accepted into the program and are in the training process. Currently, there are more than 80 Eastern Indiana employers supporting this initiative.
For more information about ACT Certified Work Ready Communities visit http://workreadycommunities.org.