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Regional Effort for Localities in SWVA to Become Work Ready Communities

The New River/Mount Rogers Workforce Development Board (NR/MR WDB) supports the region’s economy through a collaborative approach to meeting needs of businesses and job seekers that is flexible and adaptable to the changing economic ecosystem.

One of the ways the NR/MR WDB is living its mission is by being one of several organizations that are leading a regional initiative to certify 21 jurisdictions in SWVA as “Work Ready Communities.”

ACT Certified Work-Ready Communities provide community-based workforce development frameworks to drive economic development.  They improve the skills and work readiness of the workforce while giving area businesses an efficient, reliable way to identify skilled job candidates. These communities also provide counties and states with actionable data and specific workforce goals to drive economic growth.  The ACT National Career Readiness Certificate®, which is designed to measure and close skills gaps among workers and job seekers, is key to the success of CWRC.  The ACT NCRC is a portable, evidence-based, stackable credential that certifies essential skills needed for workplace success—reading for information, applied mathematics, and locating information. ACT Work Ready Communities also help individuals and businesses understand the value of the ACT NCRC and community certification.

Through the certification process:

  • Businesses and industries can learn exactly what foundational skills are needed for a productive workforce and can easily communicate their needs to job seekers.
  • Individuals can understand what skills employers require and how to prepare for career success.
  • Policymakers can consistently measure skills gaps in a timely manner at the national, state, and local levels.
  • Educators can close skills gaps via tools integrated into career pathways with stackable, industry-recognized credentials.
  • Economic developers can use an on-demand reporting tool to market the quality of their workforce. (ACT Work Ready Communities    https://workreadycommunities.org)

In January 2017, Site Selection Magazine released their 3rd annual state workforce development rankings which are intended to provide a measure of which states, by region, are devoting sufficient or superior resources to preparing their workforces for current and future employment. The rankings incorporate three measures that can be applied to all 50 states and each measure is weighted one-third:

  1. State funding expenditures for workforce preparation and development as a percentage of total economic development expenditures, fiscal year 2016, from the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness (www.creconline.org);
  2. The most recently available (2014) Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness component of Leaders & Laggards: A State-by-State Report Card on Educational Effectiveness from the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation; and
  3. Total ACT National Career Readiness Certificates (act.org).

 

Given the number of National Career Readiness Certificates (NCRCs) in Georgia and South Carolina, and the fact that NCRCs were weighted one-third toward ranking calculations, with spending and K-12 preparation accounting for the other two-thirds of the ranking, NCRC attainment is likely the one factor that prevented Virginia from being ranked in 1st place.

By becoming Work Ready Communities, the region not only continues to support the businesses that are here (with a workforce that has the skills necessary to complete and be successful on the job and in training) but also sets its workforce apart from other competing states and localities within Virginia.  It’s one thing to say you  have a “ready workforce”, it’s another thing to be able to prove it with data!

If you want to learn more about the Regional Work Ready Community Project and how you might be a part of this exciting initiative, contact Marty Holliday at marty.holliday@nrmrwib.org or 540-633-6764.