Southern Missouri’s Dent County is the 36th county in the state to link workforce development to education that matches worker skills. Governor Jay Nixon (D) says the county and City of Salem have achieved what is called Workforce Ready Certification.
“I think this can really help not only internally to grow businesses, but also to get that external investment,” says Nixon at a ceremony in Salem.
The Certified Work Ready Community (CWRC) program is part of state and national initiatives for counties to close the skills gap by aligning workforce training programs with the economic development needs of communities.
“Basically a company from India needed to make transformers in the United States. They had gotten a contract and they wanted to choose a place where to build those. Certified Work Ready was a requirement for them before they would consider making an investment,” says Nixon. “Or, a company like Blue Buffalo which is a pet food company that came down to Jasper County. One of the real reasons they came was because we were certified Work Ready and were able to prove that we were ready for them.”
Participating counties work to have their emerging, unemployed and current workers take a series of tests to obtain National Career Readiness Certificates (NCRC). These certificates demonstrate skills such as problem solving, critical thinking and mathematical reasoning. The NCRC helps validate the quality of a community’s workforce to help attract and retain business as well as reveals areas where improvements can be made.
To become a Work Ready Community, a county must meet resident- and business-based
Nixon says more than 30 other Missouri communities are trying to become work force-ready. There are 36 of Missouri’s 114 counties currently certified.