POTOSI, Mo.— The Missouri Department of Economic Development (DED) today announced that Washington County has achieved an important national milestone in demonstrating local workforce readiness and has officially been designated as a Certified Work Ready Community (CWRC).
“Missouri communities continue to come together and accomplish this tremendous workforce readiness achievement,” said Mike Downing, director of the Missouri Department of Economic Development. “Washington County’s success is an outstanding example of a community banding together for shared progress to strengthen and grow the local economy. This is what makes Missouri strong.”
The announcement was made at Purcell Tire, retreader of the largest tire in the world and America’s largest retreading company. Purcell also supports Washington County’s CWRC efforts.
“Obtaining this certification is a great accomplishment for Washington County,” said Krista Snyder, chair of the local CWRC effort and executive director of the Washington County Industrial Development Authority. “As we grow in numbers we also grow in wealth and sustainability. Becoming a Certified Work Ready Community enables us to strengthen our workforce and become more valuable to local businesses and more identifiable during a site selection search.”
The work ready 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.
This news follows recent announcements by Vernon, Barry, Chariton, Maries and Barton counties of certification as work ready communities. Missouri currently has 75 counties that are actively participating in the CWRC initiative and 25 fully-certified counties.
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.
Nearly 70,000 National Career Readiness Certificates have been awarded statewide since then, and over 3,000 Missouri businesses have signed on supporting the CWRC initiative—and Missouri touts of the highest rates of business support in the nation.
Other key partners in the certification process include the Potosi Chamber of Commerce, the City of Potosi, Washington County, the Potosi R-3 School District, Mineral Area College, Central Ozarks Private Industry Council, the Washington County Community Partnership, Meramec Regional Planning Commission and Missouri’s 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; and
- Economic development organizations are better equipped with an on-demand reporting tool to promote the quality of their workforce.
For more information about the CWRC initiative and how to apply for certification, visit www.ded.mo.gov.