Henry County has been designated as Virginia’s first Certified Work Ready Community. The nationally recognized designation by the Commonwealth and American College Testing (ACT) will help Henry County attract new businesses and jobs in addition to strengthening the skill sets of the region’s high school students, job seekers, and incumbent workforce.
Speaking about the announcement, Governor Terry McAuliffe said, “I applaud Henry County for leading the way in our Commonwealth for certification of foundational workforce skills. Training workers for the jobs of the 21stCentury is good for business, good for communities and good for our efforts to build a new Virginia economy. The people of Henry County should be proud of the progress their leaders are making in this critical area.”
“Workforce readiness is the most important thing any community can prioritize to positon itself for growth in the 21st Century,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones. “I congratulate Henry County for achieving this milestone and look forward to working with the county to highlight this achievement and encourage other communities to become certified work ready.”
“Today’s achievement by Henry County demonstrates that when we work together as a region, great things are possible. It demonstrates to our existing employers, as well as prospective companies, that we have a trainable workforce with foundational skills,” stated Dr. Julie Brown, Program Director, Dan River Region Collaborative (DRCC).
More than 60 local employers, educational institutions, and workforce development organizations supported Henry County’s efforts to achieve this important national certification. To become certified, a county must achieve benchmarks in three areas of performance: high school graduation rate, number of National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) credentials attained in the county, and number of employers recognizing NCRC.
CWRC is a voluntary initiative guided by key community leaders – local elected officials, economic development teams, business leaders, chambers of commerce, educators, and workforce development agencies. At the core of the ACT Work Ready Communities initiative is the ACT National Career Readiness Certificate™ (ACT NCRC®). Since January 2006, more than 2.75 million Americans have earned an ACT NCRC®. This national, portable credential includes three essential workplace skill categories: applied math, reading for information, and locating information.
“One of the first steps in the hiring process at Eastman is for applicants to take the NCRC,” said Charles Fraley, Human Resources Manager for Eastman. “The assessment helps ensure candidates are able to successfully complete our manufacturing training programs. We are firmly committed to investing in our workforce; this just gives us an extra level of confidence we have selected the right person to safely operate our facilities and produce a quality product for our customers.”
Recently, Site Selection Magazine added the number of National Career Readiness Certificates per 1,000 residents as part of its tabulations for its annual Top Ten Competitive States report. In addition, companies report that knowing a job candidate has foundational, verifiable workplace skills expedites the hiring process.
“To be able to document, ‘I am ready to go to work’ with a nationally recognized credential sets individuals throughout our community on a new career pathway,” said Dr. Angeline Godwin, President, Patrick Henry Community College. “Having the community meet 100% of the goals established for us through this initiative is a milestone in our region.”
In addition to Henry County, five neighboring southern Virginia localities are on track to become CWRC within the next six months, including: Patrick County, Pittsylvania County, Halifax County, and the cities of Danville and Martinsville. In addition, Greensville County and the City of Emporia launched their own CWRC initiatives in August of this year.
For more information about the DRRC or the region’s CWRC initiative, visit http://www.danriverrc.org/.