Barnwell, Chesterfield, Darlington, Dillon, Lee, Lexington, and Marion counties have joined the roster of Work Ready Communities in South Carolina. With over half of the state’s counties now certified and the implementation of WorkKeys for all 11th graders, South Carolina is on track to become the first in the nation to be a certified Work Ready State.
The ACT Work Ready Communities initiative began in 2013 as an effort to address the workforce skills gap and align employers with qualified employees. South Carolina is one of four pilot states selected to participate in ACT’s Certified Work Ready Community (CWRC) program.The national effort provides a framework for states to increase economic development using a community-based approach grounded in certifying counties as work ready. To earn a CWRC designation, counties have to reach goals in earning National Career Readiness Certificates (NCRC), meet or exceed the three-year graduation rate average or improvement percentage, and engage business support.
National Career Readiness Certificates and Work Keys
NCRC measures and certifies the essential work skills needed for success in jobs across industries and occupations. To earn an NCRC, an examinee must successfully complete three ACT WorkKeys assessments: Applied Mathematics, Locating Information, and Reading for Information. These assessments measure a range of essential work skills, including the ability to:
- Perform basic mathematic operations relevant to the workplace
- Read and understand documents commonly found in the workplace
- Find information presented in common workplace graphics
- Set up and solve complex work-related math problems
- Determine the relevance of written information to work-related tasks
- Apply information derived from graphics to work-related problems
As all 11th grade students in South Carolina complete WorkKeys assessments this spring, the number of individuals obtaining a NCRC will increase. The certificate facilitates the transition from high school to employment, as employers agree to recognize the credential in the hiring process.
There are several benefits to becoming a Work Ready Community including, attracting new businesses and investment by demonstrating a qualified and skilled workforce, connecting workforce development efforts in the county by implementing a common initiative, providing workforce data for counties so that they may address opportunities that are specific to the locality, and encouraging partnerships between education and business.
The Council’s Education and Workforce Development Task Force supported the Certified Work Ready Communities initiative as well as the implementation of WorkKeys assessments.