Economic Development News
Goal in sight for certification
Published: Thursday, February 18, 2016
By: Missy Bonnot, Director, Economic Development
Representatives from State Technical College, the Missouri Career Center, Jefferson City Public Schools and the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce say Cole County needs a way to quantify a skilled workforce in our area. The answer is in the Certified Work Ready Community program.
“The reason we have been working so hard for this certification is because it would give us the ability to objectively report the strength of our local workforce," stated Missy Bonnot, Director of Economic Development for the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce. “For example, when businesses are relocating and are looking at Jefferson City and ask, ‘What skills does your workforce have?' it can be a difficult question to answer. We have a general idea … but to be able to say 68 percent of the local workforce have obtained a Silver level NCRC, etc., they have a much better understanding of our workforce.”
In order to obtain this certification, Cole County made application to the Missouri Division of Workforce Development. Partners work toward meeting the established goals set forth by the Missouri Department of Economic Development and ACT, Inc. Goals are the number of job seekers, both emerging & transitioning, who obtain an NCRC (National Career Readiness Certificate) as well as the number of businesses engaged in recognizing or supporting the NCRC in their hiring practices. County goals were pre-set based on the 2010 Census.
Individual candidates are awarded an NCRC by achieving a minimum skill level on the WorkKeys assessment, a product developed by ACT Inc., creators of the ACT college entrance exam. The NCRC is an evidence-based, nationally recognized credential that certifies essential skills important for workplace success. Certificates are awarded at 4 levels, Bronze, Silver, Gold, & Platinum, based on scores in Applied Mathematics, Reading for Information, & Locating Information.
In Cole County, a total of 613 individuals would need to receive NCRCs. At the present time we are at 92% of our goal numbers. In addition, Cole County has a goal of 117 businesses supporting the NCRC, and using the designations as a consideration when hiring. We are happy to say 117 businesses have committed to recognizing or preferring the NCRC’s.
“Utilizing the NCRC makes the hiring process for employers predictable & uniform. It connects employers with workers who have certified proficiency in basic workplace skills. As an economic development tool, once achieving the status of a Certified Work Ready Community tells companies you are serious about supplying them with a quality labor pool.” said Shelle Jacobs, Director of Business and Industry Training, State Technical College of Missouri. “This not only helps existing businesses to expand, but makes the community more attractive to developers who are looking at Jefferson City to locate their business."
The Missouri Career Center works to assist job seekers with obtaining their NCRC’s by administering the WorkKeys test on a regular basis. Job seekers can test free of charge at the center. “Achieving CWRC status would not only benefit the community, but it also gives the job seeker an advantage over other people entering the workforce, ” Bonnot said. “In today’s job market, every credential that you can earn is so important."