Work Ready Communities Tri-County Kickoff
Anderson, Oconee, and Pickens counties have submitted applications by the February 1 deadline to be designated as S.C. Certified Work Ready Communities, Elisabeth Kovacs, state coordinator for the S.C. Department of Workforce Development, announced at a January 29 luncheon to kickoff the area SC Work Ready Communities initiative. Hosted by the Clemson’s Center for Workforce Development, over 200 community leaders in education, business and industry met to hear about the initiative designed to help South Carolina prepare a quality workforce for the future.
Upstate partners, including Anderson County Economic Development, Clemson Center for Workforce Development, Oconee County Economic Development Commission, Pendleton Regional Education Center, Alliance Pickens, and Tri-County Technical College have joined forces to raise awareness and build support for each county’s efforts to link education and workforce development.
South Carolina is one of the initial four states chosen to participate in the Work Ready Communities pilot project designed bring education and workforce development together and to align them with their communities. “It’s a locally-driven approach to connect job opportunities with job seekers. Specifically, it gives a company an idea how ‘work ready’ its community is for expanding industries, it tells them about the existing labor pool. It creates an inventory of skills sets,” said Kovacs.
The pilot program is overseen by ACT which produces the WorkKeys job skills test that measures real-world skills and is the basis for the National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC). WorkKeys has three primary assessments: applied math, reading for information, and locating information. “WorkKeys is a tool to measure qualifications and capability,” said Kovacs.
“Our three counties have done a great job of pushing forward,” said Vice President of Economic and Institutional Advancement John Lummus, who commended industry partners, educational institutions, school districts and State and elected officials for their key roles in making this happen.
“The number-one question asked by industrial prospects is what are the skills of your workforce. I can’t stress enough what this will do for economic development in our area,” he said.
“A county’s best asset is its individuals, and WorkKeys information provides a snapshot at the county level,” said Kovacs.
Also speaking was Mr. Lewis Gossett, President of the SC Manufacturers Association who restated the importance of a quality workforce.