Chamber Chat - Workforce Ready Community

Mar 19

By Meg Moss


I am proud to say that Lee County has been certified as an NC Works Certified Work Ready Community (WRC) by The North Carolina Chamber Foundation. Lee County is one of only twenty-two counties in the state holding this distinction.


According to the website, a local WRC leadership team should have representatives from “economic development, community/technical colleges, K-12 system, and business/industry. Best practice models have shown a local team comprised of these leaders is most successful in the county becoming a certified.”


The Lee County leadership team utilized that best practice model. It has been a collaborative effort between Central Carolina Community College, Lee County Schools and the Sanford Area Growth Alliance Chamber of Commerce. It has been a year-long process to obtain this certification due to the rigorous goals that had to be attained.


To receive the certification, Lee County had requirements for the high school graduation rate, the number of individuals who take the Career Readiness Certification (CRC), and the number of employers who must agree to recognize the certification as a reliable source of information regarding the job seeker’s skill set. CCCC, Lee County Schools and the Sanford Area Growth Alliance partnered with over eighty businesses who are now accepting the certification.


Bob Joyce, the Economic Development Executive Director for the Sanford Area Growth Alliance stated “as economic conditions have improved in central NC, companies relocating or expanding here are increasingly concerned about attracting and retaining highly skilled employees. The Work Ready designation for Lee County assures companies that we are doing everything possible to provide them with that skilled workforce.” In fact, Lee County Schools now require each graduating senior to test for the credential.


Employers across the country are overwhelmed by stacks of applications for only a handful of open positions. Sifting through these applications is time consuming and inefficient. Employers need a way to quickly pinpoint individuals with essential, verifiable workplace skills. One solution can be to verify if the applicant has earned a Career Readiness Certificate.


The certificate is used across all sectors of the economy and verifies the following cognitive skills: problem solving, critical thinking, reading and using work-related text, applying information from workplace documents to solve problems, applying mathematical reasoning to work-related problems, setting up and performing work-related mathematical calculations, locating, synthesizing, and applying information that is presented graphically, and comparing, summarizing, and analyzing information presented in multiple related graphics.


As an employer, wouldn’t it be great to know if an applicant has those skills before hiring them? Ask applicants to take the certification, which measures their employability skills. An individual can earn a silver, bronze, gold or platinum certificate, and as an employer, you can indicate what level you prefer.


“At GKN Driveline, we are able to better identify quality employees by recognizing the Career Readiness Certification (CRC), which in return, eases our hiring process.” said Jodi Stolzenberger, HR Manager, GKN Driveline of Sanford, NC.


The work for Lee County is not complete however. Receiving the certification is the first step – now it is critical for our employers to not just recognize the certification, but to recommend, or ever require it of job applicants. CCCC and Lee County Schools work hard to prepare students for the certification, therefore preparing our future workforce. It is up to the employers to use this measure of employability to fill their employee needs. We encourage employers to indicate in their job postings that they prefer an applicant with the Work Ready Certification.


On April 3, 2017 at 9:00 am, a community celebration will take place at the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center. The NC Chamber Foundation will present the certification to the Lee County community; local businesses will be recognized for their partnership in this effort; and there will be a presentation on the importance of the certification to education and economic development.



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