Economic Development News

Work continues on Certified Work Ready Communities
Published: Tuesday, December 16, 2014 12:00 pm
By: Shaun Sappenfield

Local representatives from the Missouri Division of Workforce Development, State Technical College of Missouri, Jefferson City Public Schools – Nichols Career Center and the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce have been working diligently over the past several months to fulfill goals set forth by the Missouri Department of Economic Development and ACT, Inc. to achieve Certified Work Ready Community status for Cole County. 

Missouri’s CWRC initiative is a voluntary effort to align workforce and education to meet the economic needs of the state and local communities. It is guided by key community leaders (economic development entities, business leaders, chambers of commerce, educators and workforce development partners in each county).

To earn certification, partners must work toward meeting the established goals identified by the Missouri Department of Economic Development and ACT, Inc.  

  • Demonstrate leadership by key stakeholders
  • National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) attained by job seekers, both emerging & transitioning, and current employees  
  • Businesses engaged in recognizing or supporting the NCRC in their hiring practices

Statewide, there are forty-three participating counties of which seven counties have obtained Certified Work Ready Community certification.  To date, the counties of Butler, Franklin, Jasper, Jefferson, Henry, St. Francois and Ripley have all received county-wide certification. 

“Businesses demand a talented and well-trained workforce,” said Mike Downing, Director of the Missouri Department of Economic Development.  “Applying for this designation is evidence of the county'scommitment to reaching education, workforce, and economic development goals that make their communities a desirable place for companies looking to expand or relocate.” 

In Cole County, a total of 613 individuals would need to receive National Career Readiness Certification.  NCRC is attained by a minimum skill level on the WorkKeys assessment, a product developed by ACT, Inc.  The NCRC is an evidence-based, nationally recognized credential that certifies essential skills important for workplace success. Certificates are awarded at four levels, Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum, based on scores in Applied Mathematics, Reading for Information and Locating Information. 

In Cole County, a total of 613 individuals must obtain NCRCs before certification is granted.  Presently, 274 have earned the certification within the categories of Emerging (11), Current (141), and Transitioning (122).  In addition, supporting employer totals stand at 88 out of a goal of 117.

  • Emerging workforce consists of high school juniors and seniors, college students (can be technical, vocational, community college or four-year college programs), and recent graduates (within the last 12 months).
  • Transitioning workforce means currently unemployed or currently participating in an adult education or GED program (or recent completed within the last 12 months).
  • Current workforce means currently employed in either the private or public sector. Information about recent veterans (discharged within the last 12 months) is also captured; veterans will be counted in the transitioning workforce category.

To achieve required goals within the Emerging and Transitioning categories, committee representatives are working directly with Nichols Career Center and Jefferson City Public School (JCPS) administrators to begin testing students attending classes at Nichols Career Center.  During the 2014-15 school year, Nichols Career Center staff will test multiple students to begin fulfilling goals within the Emerging categories. 

The “Transitional” category, representatives are currently working with officials from the Algoa Correctional Center to test individuals transitioning back into the workforce.  Reengaging offenders into the workforce is a critical step in the rehabilitating process and the NCRC assessment can provide employers with an up-to-date gauge of their skills.  Transitioning offenders can provide a perspective employer with a quality workforce, but employers must have complete understanding of their skill set and the NCRC assessment is a great tool.    

Work within the “Current” category has been fulfilled with assistance coming from staff at the Missouri Career Center located on Four Seasons Drive, in Jefferson City.  Career Center staff continues to provide testing to individuals seeking NCRC certification as an added educational assessment tool to provide to prospective employers.  Businesses may take advantage of the local Career Center’s testing assistance by directing job applicants to the Career Center for assessment.  The NCRC not only benefits the businesses that recognize it but also benefits the those individuals who acquire the certification.

To achieve county-wide certification, we must obtain 613 National Career Readiness Certification before the deadline of June 30th, 2015.  We are close to achieving certifications within the Emerging, Current and Transitioning categories but our work is far from over. Over the coming months, we will continue to work diligently with area partners to achieve the goals established for Cole County.  Maintaining a skilled workforce is a critical factor in any economy and the CWRC initiative for Cole County is a wonderful tool for both employees and employers seeking employment stability.  

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