Court members hear about benefits of being a ‘Certified Work Ready in Progress Community’

Posted July 23, 2014 at 1:57 pm

Clinton County will have the opportunity to apply to become a “Certified Work Ready in Progress Community” as fiscal court members heard a presentation from Darrell McGaha about the project through the Kentucky Workforce Investment Board in conjunction with the Education and Workforce Cabinet. The presentation was made at last week’s regular court session.

McGaha briefly outlined the program, the criteria required, the steps necessary to become a part of the program as well as the benefits forcommunities to take part.

In requesting the county consider applying to become a Certified Work Ready in Progress Community, McGaha noted it would take a lot of involvement from the community and a lot of work to implement and follow through with the program. He also noted the school district would need to play a major role since it would probably be someone from that entity to write the application.

Under the Certified Work Ready Community program, the Kentucky Workforce Investment Board will certify counties that apply and meet the criteria, as Work Ready or Work Ready in Progress based on the quality of its labor force and the community commitment to continuous improvement of the workforce.

The program builds on the concept of “certified employability” from the individual level–as indicated by a person’s attainment of diplomas, degrees, certificates and other credentials–to the community level. Along this vein, McGaha noted that Area Technology Centers, Community Colleges and other educational institutions that offer certification level education is important aspects to the project.

According to information supplied at the meeting to court members, there was a list of benefits to being a part of a Certified Work Ready Community. McGaha said “Telling economic developers you have a skilled workforce is one thing, but earning Certified Work Ready Community or Work Ready Community in Progress status provides tangible evidence that your workers are skilled and the county is committed to keeping them skilled.”

Work Ready Communities can:

* Attract new businesses and investment;

* Gain a competitive advantage over other communities;

* Help existing companies grow and add new jobs;

* Recruit creative, talented, and innovative people;

* Revitalize their economies and keep them growing.

Because certification requires collaboration and cooperation among key stakeholders (community college staff, secondary education, economic development, professionals, elected and appointed officials, employers, chambers of commerce, school boards, community organizations, and others) communities can also reduce duplication of services and leverage resources to fill gaps and improve quality.

During the process of becoming a Workforce Ready in Progress, each community must gather local support and commitment to apply for the Work Ready Community designation. To earn the designation of a Certified Work Ready Community, counties will have to meet and maintain six criteria based on input from economic development and business and industry representatives. Counties with a realistic plan to meet all six criteria can apply for Work Ready Community in Progress status.

Once submitted, a review panel representing key organizations will review the application and make recommendations to the Kentucky Workforce Investment Board for certification.

It is recommended that the application package be reviewed and an existing committee, with a committee leader, be formed and submit the county’s letter of intent for Work Ready. Further, criteria should be set reviewing the county’s data, with sub-committees formed for each criteria to establish and manage a timeline and goals.

The committee should also appoint the person to write the application, with sub-committee plans included and have all members given the opportunity to review and comment before submitting the final application.

Some of the goals set forth in the Certified Work Ready in Progress Community status, over time, include:

1. Raise the high school graduation rate (currently state is 86.1 percent) to 98 percent by 2022.

2. NCRC (National Career Readiness Certificate ) holders: Goal is nine percent within three years and 15 percent in five years.

3. Educational Attainment: 25 percent within three years, 32 percent within five years and 39 percent within seven years and, GED: Plan to reduce number without high school diploma by three percent in three years and five percent in five years.

4. Soft skills–Current activities and plan for promoting soft skills training.

5. Broadband: Rural County 90% availability to households within three years.

6. Supplemental Information: Normally use numbers of individuals who have obtained certificates or credentials from ATCs, community colleges or other providers.

McGaha also noted the court that in goal five, providing broadband to 90 percent of all households, may not be feasible in some areas, including Clinton County due to the surrounding lakes and in some cases, inaccessibility to broadband service from those providers.

Following the presentation, Magistrate Mickey Riddle, who chaired the meeting in judge Huff’s absence, told McGaha and a few other local leaders and educators that were on hand for the presentation, that he would present the information to the judge/executive and the court would take the request under advisement and consider applying for Work Ready in Progress Community status.