Cooper County earns Certified Work Ready status

December 22, 2016

BOONVILLE, Mo.— The Missouri Department of Economic Development (DED) today announced Cooper County has achieved official designation as a Certified Work Ready Community (CWRC). The initiative helps communities validate the skills and knowledge of their emerging, transitioning and current workforce to the business community.

“Missouri continues to lead the way with Certified Work Ready Communities as our counties work tirelessly to make sure we have the best talent a state can offer,” said DED Director Mike Downing. “Through this designation, Cooper County now has the proof to back up their quality workforce. Cooper County’s certification makes the state more competitive and also helps close the skills gap within our state and county as the demand for tech and STEM experience increases.”

By leveraging the National Career Readiness Certificate and achieving CWRC status, Missouri communities demonstrate they have the necessary partnerships in place to attract, develop and retain a workforce, with the education and fundamental skills to succeed in the 21st Century.

“Cooper County and Boonville, as well as our education providers, have worked diligently over the last 3 years to increase career readiness options and provide pathways for our citizens to retool themselves for the jobs of now and the future,” said Boonville/Cooper County Economic Developer Dr. Jim Gann. “It is very nice that the State of Missouri has recognized us for these efforts.”

The ceremony was held at the Boonville Council Chambers. Local supporting employers include Cooper County Memorial Hospital, Boonville R-I Schools, CMMG, Inc., Imko Workforce Solutions, Choteau Fabricating and more.

In 2012, Missouri was selected to be one of the first four states to participate in the CWRC initiative, and in 2013, Jasper County became the first CWRC in the nation. Missouri now has 83 counties that are actively participating in the CWRC initiative and 38 fully-certified counties. New certifications are considered on a quarterly basis.

Along with big supporting companies, schools like Boonslick Technical Education Center (BTEC) played a large part in Cooper County becoming Certified Work Ready. Their students have the skills to join the workforce but they do not always stay in school long enough for a college degree. Earning their National Career Readiness Certificate makes them more marketable and more prepared for the workplace.

“Since we now offer Workkeys testing as our summative test in the BTEC, we can now offer the students something else to take along to their first job – a certification of their quality. This is incredibly important to them, and I am proud that we can offer this testing as a pathway for them,” said Superintendent of Boonville R-I School District Dr. Mark Ficken.

CWRC status makes communities more attractive to businesses because it offers a feedback loop for what’s needed by different players in the dynamic 21st Century workforce. Specifically, benefits from CWRC certification include:

  • Workers better understand what skills are required by employers and how to prepare themselves for success.

  • Businesses can more effectively communicate their workforce needs to area education and workforce training programs.

  • Educators have better tools for closing any skill gaps by establishing career pathways for students with stackable industry-recognized credentials.

  • Economic development organizations are better equipped with an on-demand reporting tool to promote the quality of their workforce.

    For more information about CWRC and how to apply for certification, visit www.ded.mo.gov/getcertified.