UNION COUNTY — A member of a steering committee formed by Union County Supervisor Tommy Sinclair to help the county become the first Work Ready Community in South Carolina is working to recruit the support of local small businesses for the effort.
Torance Inman, Union County Chamber of Commerce executive director, is a member of the Union County Steering Committee which is developing a community plan for the Work Ready Community effort and build local support for it. The South Carolina Work Ready Communities initiative, is a public-private initiative whose mission is to empower counties in developing a workforce that meets the needs and challenges of the global economy.
Inman said Thursday that Sinclair appointed the committee not just to help the county become a Work Ready Community, but to be the first county in South Carolina to achieve that status.
“When Tommy Sinclair saw this he saw the importance of it and wanted Union County to be the first certified Work Ready Community in South Carolina,” Inman said. “He quickly did some research to determine what was needed to get the process started. So he formed a committee of key participants in workforce employment, education to include public schools, adult education, the technical colleges and the university, as well as business and industry.”
Inman said committee members each work in their area of experience and expertise to promote the Work Ready Community effort in that segment of the community
“Out of that it was determined based on the criteria set for South Carolina Work Ready Communities the goals that were to be realized by each segment in order to obtain Work Ready certification,” he said. “My part is to work with local small businesses of five employees or more to introduce them to the process and obtain the commitment of at least 24 businesses. I firmly believe that once introduced to the process we will easily exceed that goal.
“The businesses will need to understand the value of WorkKeys certifications,” he said. “It is called the National Career Readiness Certificate and it is powered by the WorkKeys skills assessment system.”
The WorkKeys program tests individuals in the areas of applied mathematics, reading for information, and locating information. Research has determined that those skills are highly important in up to 18,000 different occupations. The tests identify an individual’s existing skill levels in those occupations; match those skill levels to specific job requirements; and provide proof that they have the skills needed to be successful in the workplace.
A person who passes the WorkKeys tests receives a National Career Readiness Certificate, a portable, industry-recognized credential that identifies an individual’s skill levels. The certificate provides proof of the quality of a community’s workforce and helps achieve a systemic alignment of state and county economic development in support of existing industry and the recruitment of new industry.
WorkKeys, which is currently being offered through Adult Education and will be offered in April at the Union County Advanced Technology Center, is part of the county’s efforts to meet the criteria set by the Work Ready Communities initiative. In February, Union County was one of 34 counties designated as a Work Ready Communities In Progress, meaning the county is making progress toward becoming a Work Ready Community. The county now has two years to meet the criteria required by the initiative.
Inman said that his efforts as a member of the committee will be directed at getting small businesses to agree to take one of three steps to support the county’s Work Ready Community efforts:
• Agree to recognize individuals who have received a National Career Readiness Certificate when presented by a potential employee.
• Agree to prefer that job applicants have received a National Career Readiness Certificate and include it in their hiring announcements.
• Agree to recommend that applicants have a National Career Readiness Certificate when hiring or evaluating current employees for jobs that have had a common profile created by an authorized WorkKeys Job Profiler.
Inman said that achieving Work Ready Community status is important to the future of Union County’s efforts to recruit new industry.
“Bottom line is that Union County wants to be able to say to business and industry that we have a trained, ready, and nationally certified workforce,” Inman said. “We want to be able to mean it and back it up with a certified Work Ready certification.
“One only needs to visit some of our new businesses that have located here in Union County and you will quickly see the need for a trained, very skilled, technical workforce,” he said. “It would behoove every industry and business in Union County to take part in our efforts to become a certified Work Ready Community.”
Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.