ACT® Work Ready Communities
The ACT® Work Ready Communities initiative is a core element in the effort to build a truly national system for work readiness. At the core of this aspiration sit ACT National Career Readiness Certificates (NCRCs) that focus on certifying three essential skills – applied math, reading for information, and locating information. The NCRC is an evidence-based credential that has been proven to accurately predict work readiness and job performance. And, this predictive power applies to all three key groups of people: new workers, transitioning workers and individuals who already have jobs.
These Certificates – and the skills they verify – help assure employers that the people hired and/or advanced will succeed. The Certificates also act like passports – regardless of where an individual lives or moves, the Certificates testify to work readiness. And, because the Certificates are a win/win for employers and employees alike, counties that have sustainable, ongoing certification efforts are far more attractive. In effect, counties that are Certified Work Ready Communities have a built in economic development advantage in the eyes of existing employers as well as those contemplating relocation's.
Pottawatomie County became a Certified Work Ready County in December 2016, and has continued to maintain its certification and add new objectives. In early 2018, Pottawatomie County received Maintenance status almost one year ahead of time by continuing programs such as: closing skills gaps by helping individuals improve their work readiness skills; conducting job analyses to help companies better leverage the WorkKeys National Career Ready Certificate in hiring and promotion; and integrating the WorkKeys NCRC as the foundational level in the model of stackable credentials established by the U.S. Department of Labor, to help ensure that local targets are aligned with the skills needed in high demand careers. Pottawatomie County is the first county in the state to achieve this status. The number of certified counties in America is now 200, but, only 24 counties in the country have achieved maintenance status.
Pottawatomie County Economic Development Corporation is currently in contact with Jo Brunner, Workforce Services Supervisor of Junction City/Manhattan Workforce Centers, Kansas Department of Commerce who will help us register the students on KansasWorks.com. so that the scores and certificate levels can be used as an economic tool for us and Kansas. The certificates have the ACT National Career Readiness emblem on them and are signed by the Governor of Kansas.
The need for Work Ready Communities (WRC) that are motivated to ensure that education and training match the needs of employers, lead to jobs, and help individuals advance in their careers are enabled through the WRC framework. According to ACT, education and workforce development must be linked and aligned with the needs of employers in communities so that candidates can find and succeed in jobs. Over 70 employers have signed to either “recognize or recommend” the National Career Ready Certificate
Achieving WRC status means that Pottawatomie County has a robust, connected workforce development program in place. Certification of a participating Work Ready County is based on:
1. the numbers of individuals, which is over 600 in Pottawatomie County, in its emerging, transitioning, and current workforces who have earned an ACT® National Career Readiness Certificate® (ACT® NCRC®), a portable credential that uses performance on selected ACT® WorkKeys® assessments to demonstrate achievement and a certain level of workplace employability skills; and
2. the numbers of its employers recognizing or recommending the ACT® WorkKeys® NCRC® in support of the county becoming a certified Work Ready Community. These numbers are established by goals developed from the ACT WRC common criteria.
To learn how your company can utilize this program or learn more about testing, contact the PCEDC.
For More Information on ACT® Work Ready Communities
Photo and article by Jessica Venneberg, Executive Assistant with Pottawatomie County Economic Development Corporation.
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