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ACT Work Ready Community

February 25th, 2016 by

new_logoMonticello Economic Development Corporation director Nita McDaniel and UAM Upward Pre-College Program director Tawana Greene-Jones are participating in the ACT Work Ready Communities (ACT WRC) Academy, which is being funded and organized by the Workforce Alliance of Southeast Arkansas. The Workforce Alliance of Southeast Arkansas is a UAM based regional workforce education and training program.

McDaniel and Greene-Jones are members of the grant team that is made up of economic developers, educators, businesses, city and county officials. Counties participating in the ACT WRC Academy are Ashley, Bradley, Desha, Drew, and Lincoln.

The purpose of the ACT WRC is to build a community-based workforce development program that provides individuals and employers the tools for job growth. This program has a sustainable, data-driven economic development outline. Key to the ACT Work Ready Communities initiative is the ACT National Career Readiness Certificate, which is designed to measure and close skills gaps among workers and those searching for employment. The ACT NCRC is a nationally recognized credential that provides certificates for the necessary skills needed for workplace success. These skills include reading for information, applied mathematics, and locating information.

The ACT WRC Academy consists of four academy sessions over 12 months. The first session will be held in Atlanta on March 2-3, 2016. The Academy prepares community teams for implementation of a performance-driven program to build sustainable workforce development efforts. The Drew County team will be guided through the startup and deployment of certified ACT Work Ready Communities initiatives. McDaniel and Greene-Jones will be trained to use an on-demand reporting tool to market the quality of our workforce. One of the first questions many new industry prospects asks is, “Do you have an available qualified workforce.” As an ACT Work Ready Community, Drew County will have verifiable data to provide to a prospective business indicating our workforce’s level of accomplishment. Having a trained, competent workforce is invaluable as a recruitment tool. All other incentives that can be offered to a prospect are useless without a workforce to operate the facility.

ACT WRC has stated that Drew County will be certified as “work ready” when we meet established goals based on population, the number of individuals earning the ACT NCRC, and the level of employer participation. ACT will work with Drew County to set these goals based on current county labor force data and across our current, transitioning, and emerging workforce. ACT has identified the current workforce as those currently employed. The transitioning workforce is identified as those currently unemployed, GED or adult education participants, and/or the current or recent active-duty military. The emerging workforce is identified as high school juniors, seniors, college students or recent graduates.

Business and Industry involvement, as well as city and county involvement, is critical to the success of Drew County being certified as a “Work Ready Community.” Our goal is to create an industry-driven, community-based program that will close skills gaps.

The cooperation and hard work of economic developers, businesses, city and county officials, and educators, will be necessary to accomplish our certification as a “Work Ready community.” We will have added a very important recruitment tool, by acquiring this certification, which will benefit new businesses, existing or expanding businesses, and our citizens.


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