Cathy Wenning, Chair of the Rush County Economic and Community Development Corporation and Government and Community Relations Manager for DUKE Energy opened the program “No Foolin’ We’re Going for the Gold” at the April 1st Rotary meeting. This informational program described Rush County’s acceptance to and subsequent participation in the pilot program for individual counties of the ACT Certified Work Ready Communities initiative.
The foundation of a community’s certification is based on individuals at the county level across the current, transitioning and emerging workforce earning a National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) and employers recognizing the NCRC. The NCRC is a portable, industry-recognized credential that clearly identifies an individual’s WorkKeys® skills in reading for information, applied math and locating information.
“WorkOne is the provider of testing here in our Region”, stated John McCane, ECDC Executive Director. “They offer it at the Rush County Courthouse Assembly Room on a monthly basis and will test more often if there is a need. The goal is for a certain percentage of each of the workforce groups to earn a NCRC. So far we are exceeding our goals for the emerging and incumbent workforce; we will be encouraging more individuals who are unemployed or transitioning from the military to take the test and earn that certification. The Work Ready Community designation will serve as an important economic development tool for the county.”
There are also goals for numbers of employers supporting this program. “Having the businesses engaged is of prime importance, said Mayor Mike Pavey. Job seekers will be more inclined to take the test when they know employers value WorkKeys® and recognize the importance of the NCRC. Also, this is such a great “tie-in” to the Manufacturing Matters training program. One of the qualifiers to get accepted into this program is scoring a Level 4 on WorkKeys.”
Several local employers signed support pledges at the April 1st event. These included INTAT, Pioneer and Rush Shelby Energy (pictured). ECDC and WorkOne will be contacting additional employers to explain the benefits of the program and enlist their support.
While spearheaded by the ECDC, this program is one initiative of the K To Success Education Committee. Members of that committee include representatives of the Rush County School Corporation, School Board of Trustees, City and County Government, Economic Development, Chamber of Commerce, Ivy Tech, WorkOne, Business Partners, and other community leaders. Rush County Commissioner Ken Masters, who was one of the initial advocates for the ACT program said “Being able to quantify skill levels of potential employees is extremely important to existing businesses as well as to companies we may attract to Rush County”.
Progress towards the goal can be tracked at www.workreadycommunities.org. Simultaneous with todays’ announcement, Rush County’s participation will “go live” on that website.