Halifax Co. named Va's second Certified Work Ready Community

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HALIFAX COUNTY (WSLS 10) - Halifax County is now a Certified Work Ready Community.

This designation will allow the county to bring in new business and jobs, in addition to strengthening the skill sets of the region's high school students, job seekers, and incumbent workforce.

To become certified, a county must achieve benchmarks in high school graduation rate, number of National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) credentials attained in the count and number of employers recognizing NCRC.

Below is the full press release from Governor McAuliffe's office:

Governor Terry McAuliffe announced today that Halifax County has been designated as a Certified Work Ready Community (CWRC).  The nationally recognized designation by the Commonwealth and American College Testing (ACT) will help Halifax County attract new businesses and jobs in addition to strengthening the skill sets of the region's high school students, job seekers, and incumbent workforce.

Speaking about the announcement, Governor McAuliffe said, "I applaud Halifax County for leading the way in our Commonwealth for certification of foundational workforce skills. Training workers for the jobs of the 21st Century is good for business, good for communities and good for our efforts to build a new Virginia economy. The people of Halifax County should be proud of the progress their leaders are making in this critical area."

"Workforce readiness is the most important thing any community can prioritize to position itself for growth in the 21st Century," said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones.  "I congratulate Halifax County for achieving this milestone and look forward to working with the county to highlight this achievement and encourage other communities to become certified work ready."

"Today's achievement by Halifax County demonstrates that when we work together as a region, great things are possible.  It demonstrates to our existing employers, as well as prospective companies, that we have a trainable workforce with the foundational skills to compete," stated Dr. Julie Brown, Program Director, Dan River Region Collaborative (DRCC).

More than 50 local employers, educational institutions, and workforce development organizations supported Halifax County's efforts to achieve this important national certification. To become certified, a county must achieve benchmarks in three areas of performance: high school graduation rate, number of National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) credentials attained in the county, and number of employers recognizing NCRC.  Presto Products Company, located in South Boston, Virginia, is just one of the companies in Halifax County supporting the CWRC effort.

"Success in decision making comes down to a delicate balance between speed-of-action and the accuracy of those actions. Hiring decisions are no different in those regards – when we have a vacancy, we need it filled quickly, but we need it filled with the right skill set. Being able to point to a nationally recognized certification as part of an applicant's assessment, allows us to act quickly, with a high degree of confidence in the results," said Bradford Lee, Presto's Plant Manager.

CWRC is a voluntary initiative guided by key community leaders – local elected officials, economic development teams, business leaders, chambers of commerce, educators, and workforce development agencies. At the core of the ACT Work Ready Communities initiative is the ACT National Career Readiness Certificate™ (ACT NCRC®). Since January 2006, more than 2.75 million Americans have earned an ACT NCRC®. This national, portable credential includes three essential workplace skill categories: applied math, reading for information, and locating information.

The NCRC credential is administered, in Halifax County, by Southside Virginia Community College (SVCC) with multiple agencies providing referrals.

"The achievement of the Certified Work Ready Community status for Halifax County is evidence of the skill level of the workforce and the collaborative efforts of local partners. The South Boston Workforce Center Business Services Team stands ready to continue to assist with services for employers and job seekers," stated Debra Crowder, South Central Workforce Development Board Executive Director.

"With each group assessed, Halifax' scores emerged to tell our story of competitive intellectual capital," said Pam Taylor, NCRC Proctor and SVCC Workforce Development Coordinator.  "Business prospects in this region of Southern Virginia can certainly check ‘competitive workforce' as a criterion met on their site analyses."

Recently, Site Selection Magazine added the number of National Career Readiness Certificates per 1,000 residents as part of its tabulations for its annual Top Ten Competitive States report.  In addition, companies report that knowing a job candidate has foundational, verifiable workplace skills expedites the hiring process.

"The CWRC designation is a testament to the potential our community holds for business and industry growth," added Mitzi Riddle, President of the Halifax County Chamber of Commerce.  "We are sending a signal to the business world that Halifax County's workforce is skilled, and our community is a great place in which businesses can grow and thrive."

Matt Leonard, Executive Director with the Halifax IDA, stated, "A skilled and ready workforce is most often the critical factor when our business and industrial clients consider expanding or relocating.  Programs such as the one being highlighted today at Presto give our clients another level of confidence that the Southern Virginia workforce is that much more ready than others."

In addition to Halifax County, Henry County has been certified as a Work Ready Community. Four neighboring southern Virginia localities are on track to become CWRCs within the next four months, including Patrick County, Pittsylvania County, and the cities of Danville and Martinsville.  In addition, Greensville County and the City of Emporia launched their CWRC initiatives in 2015, with Cumberland County planning to launch this spring.

For more information about the DRRC or the region's CWRC initiative, visit http://www.danriverrc.org/.