Maries County earns Certified Work Ready Community status, students receive National Career Readiness Certificates

March 18, 2016

VIENNA, MO— The Missouri Department of Economic Development (DED) today announced Maries County has achieved designation as a Certified Work Ready Community (CWRC). DED Director Mike Downing joined local business, education and community leaders to celebrate and also present National Career Readiness Certificates (NCRC) to over 20 Vienna High School juniors and seniors.

“This day is a culmination of much hard work on the part of Maries County leadership and so many talented students who proved their skills by undergoing Work Keys testing and earning certificates for career readiness,” Downing said. “This is a testament to the county’s dedication to talent development—the number one tool for growing local economies and attracting more business activity to the community.”

The announcement was made at Vienna High School, a supporter of Maries County’s CWRC efforts. Over 30 students from Belle High School, located in Maries County, have also helped the country achieve this designation by earning NCRCs.

The CWRC designation, made by American College Testing (ACT), aligns workforce training programs with the economic development needs of communities, matches appropriate applicants to jobs based on skill level, and strengthens businesses by strengthening the workforce. Work Keys testing NCRC is just one part of the rigorous process.

"We have an extremely talented group of young people in our county, and the Work Keys testing proved that,” said Ray Schwartze, chairperson of the Maries County CWRC committee and presiding county commissioner. “Maries County is very excited about achieving this designation, and we thank our businesses, our schools and our students, who are the future workforce of Maries County and Missouri, for partnering with us to reach this goal. We congratulate all the juniors and seniors from Vienna and Belle high schools who have earned their National Career Ready Certificates. Job well done!" 

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 75 counties that are actively participating in the CWRC initiative and 25 fully-certified counties.

In the past three weeks, Vernon, Barry and Chariton counties have also celebrated certification as work ready communities.

Kingsford Manufacturing supports Maries County’s CWRC initiative, and uses the NCRC credential in its hiring process.

“To stay competitive today and in the future requires talented and engaged employees who think like business owners and drive continuous improvement,” said Steve Miller, plant manager of Kingsford Manufacturing. “Through the Missouri Career Center and the Work Keys testing program, we’ve been able to find people with the right skills who can help us continue to be a successful operation, great place to work and a strong community partner.”

Many other supporters such as Brewer Science, a company that develops and manufactures innovative materials, processes and equipment for the microelectronics and related industries, also consider the NCRC when hiring.

Other key partners in the certification process include the Vienna Chamber of Commerce, American Realty & Development, Vienna and Belle high schools, East Central College, Legends Banks, Quaker Windows, Sinks Pharmacy and the Central Region Workforce Investment Board.

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


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