East Central College Campus

East Central College trustees were updated on the Franklin County Certified Work Ready Community Initiative at its meeting Monday night.

Gretchen Pettet, executive director of work force development at ECC, shared information on the initiative.

“Missouri was one of seven states in the country chosen to implement this initiative,” she told trustees.

Pettet said creating a certified work ready community involves linking work force development to education, aligning the economic development potential of regions and matching applicants to appropriate jobs based on testable skills.

She noted that participation in the state-sanctioned initiative is voluntary.

Work Ready

“We have put together a 16-member leadership team comprised of elected officials, industry representatives, leaders in economic and work force development, Chamber of Commerce representatives and educators in Franklin County,” Pettet explained.

“A certified work ready community means our county has job candidates in the pipeline with high-demand skills,” she said. “It also shows that local employers care about hiring the best and brightest our region has to offer.”

Last week, the team submitted an application to move forward with an action plan that will make Franklin County a certified work ready community in the next two years.

The critical element to becoming certified is to build worker as well as employer familiarity with the National Career Readiness Certificate.

Worker Certification

Pettet stated that the National Career Readiness Certificate is a work-related skills credential. The documentation provides employers with an objective evaluation of an individual worker’s skills and it is accepted nationwide.

The NCRC tests work place related competencies in a similar manner that the ACT or SAT tests the learning and thinking skills of a student pursuing higher education.

“This is a way to quantify the skills people say they have,” Pettet said.

To determine which readiness category a worker falls into a set of skills critical to on-the-job success are tested. These critical traits, referred to as WorkKeys®, are reading skills, applied mathematics and information location skills.

The NCRC then ranks workers in one of four competency levels  — bronze, silver, gold and platinum. These levels define a workers career readiness.

An individual who is tested on these skills and is ranked at a bronze career readiness level qualifies for about 17 percent of jobs offered in the national job market. A person ranked with a platinum level of career readiness qualifies for 98 percent of all jobs offered in the national market.

County Goals

Earlier this year the county set a series of goals related to the promotion of the concept of National Career Readiness Certification.

“By utilizing the NCRC, Franklin County will be able to attract, retain and develop a work force with the education and foundational skills to succeed in the 21st century,” Pettet said.

The county expects to see at least 449 people attain certification over the next two years.

The majority of that group will be students preparing to graduate from high schools, colleges or career-technical education programs. People currently employed or seeking new employment will make up smaller portions of the Franklin County citizens earning readiness certification.

Franklin County employers also are expected to embrace the NCRC in hiring processes.

By the end of November, 11 Franklin County employers had signed on as supporting businesses meaning they agree to recognize, prefer or recommend the NCRC in hiring.

The goal is 70 supporting businesses by the end of the two-year trial period.

The committee anticipates hearing from the Missouri Division of Workforce Development about the status of the Franklin County application sometime in January.

More information on Certified Work Ready Communities is available at ded.mo.gov/getcertified.