The Dan River Region Collaborative (DRRC) and the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR), in partnership with regional economic development agencies, school divisions, workforce development boards and employers, announced a workforce development grant award from the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission (TRRC).
The $260,674 grant, along with matching funds, will help maximize the impact and growth of the ACT Work Ready Community (WRC) Expansion Phase II effort, which will include all 15 GO Virginia Region 3 localities, as well as Greensville County and Emporia of the Crater Planning District.
“This support from the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission builds on a strong and collaborative regional partnership that has demonstrated measurable growth to better position thousands of job candidates across most of Southern Virginia with an employer-recognized and valued credential,” said Dr. Julie Brown, Project Director for the Dan River Region Collaborative and Director of Advanced Learning for the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research. “The Work Ready Community designation will continue to greatly assist these localities in marketing the competencies of their workforce to existing and prospective employers.”
TRRC funding, along with matched funding, will support 12 certified localities as they maintain their WRC status (progressing through maintenance Periods 1, 2 and 3) and will assist five localities in achieving their initial WRC goals. Efforts will include initial ACT WorkKeys National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) testing and NCRC retakes to improve certification level along with job profiles for participating employers and dedicated personnel to work with employers and partner agencies. Funding partners on the matching side include IALR, Danville Regional Foundation, local school divisions, workforce development boards and regional employers.
The ACT WorkKeys NCRC is a competency- and evidence-based, industry-recognized, third-party validated, portable and stackable certification that validates work readiness skills in applied math, graphic literacy and workplace documents. As sufficient numbers of tests are passed in a locality, it is then certified as a Work Ready Community. Once initial certification is attained, communities must reach further goals to maintain certification.
Companies such as Owens-Illinois (Pittsylvania), Eastman Chemical (Martinsville), Ten Oaks (Patrick), Nucor Buildings Group (Mecklenburg) and Genesis Décor (Amelia) have supported the NCRC, and some have adopted it as part of their job applicant pre-screening process. Outcomes are truly significant, including 10,622 NCRCs earned as of June 30, 2020, and more than 5,500 additional certificates expected in the two-year period of the WRC Expansion Phase II project, which covers the majority of the Southern TRRC region.
“The implementation of this process has improved the efficiency of our interviewing. We are talking to applicants with a real motivation to work at O-I who have proven skill levels,” said Stephanie McGuire, HR Manager for Owens-Illinois. “The job profiling and WorkKeys program provides us a valid and well-documented screening tool.”
Localities participating in the CWRC initiative include:
Work Ready Communities maintaining designation:
- Halifax County – Maintaining Period 3
- Henry County – Maintaining Period 2
- Pittsylvania County – Maintaining Period 2
- City of Martinsville – Maintaining Period 2
- City of Danville – Maintaining Period 1
- Patrick County – Maintaining Period 1
- Lunenburg County – Maintaining Period 1
- Mecklenburg County – Maintaining Period 1
- Amelia County – Maintaining Period 1
- Brunswick County – Maintaining Period 1
- Charlotte County – Maintaining Period 1
- Nottoway County – Maintaining Period 1
GO Virginia Region 3 Expansion – localities targeted to achieve initial CWRC status:
- Buckingham County – 99%
- Cumberland County – 93%
- Prince Edward County – 95%
Crater Planning District – localities targeted to achieve initial CWRC status:
- Greensville County – 98%
- Emporia City – 85%
In July 2013, Southern Virginia was the first region in Virginia to commit to earning the ACT Certified Work Ready Community designation. The launch of the original six localities included the cities of Danville and Martinsville and the counties of Halifax, Henry, Patrick and Pittsylvania.
The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research serves Virginia as a regional catalyst for economic transformation with applied research, advanced learning, advanced manufacturing, conference center services and economic development efforts. IALR’s major footprint focuses within Southern Virginia, including the counties of Patrick, Henry, Franklin, Pittsylvania, Halifax and Mecklenburg along with the cities of Martinsville and Danville. For more information, visit www.ialr.org.