Lee County is entering its 3rd year as an NC Works Certified Work Ready Community (WRC) and the certification is having a positive impact across the board. This program, initiated by the North Carolina Chamber Foundation, helps employers, potential employees and the workforce as a whole. To receive the certification, Lee County had to meet or surpass requirements for high school graduation rates, the number of individuals who have taken the Career Readiness Certification (CRC), and the number of employers who agree to recognize the certification as a reliable source of information regarding the job seeker’s skill set. Central Carolina Community College, Lee County Schools and the Sanford Area Growth Alliance have partnered with over eighty businesses who are now accepting the certification.
WRC status for Lee County can be fairly classified as a “Win – Win – Win” result.
Sanford Area Growth Alliance Economic Development Executive Director Bob Joyce cites the significant benefit for businesses that are new to the area, commenting “As economic conditions have improved in central NC, companies relocating or expanding here are increasingly concerned about attracting and retaining highly skilled employees. The Work Ready designation assures that we are doing everything possible to provide them with that skilled workforce.”
The WRC program also help employees — new and old — earn credentials that enhance their marketability. The certificate verifies a wide range of skills, such as problem solving, critical thinking, reading, mathematical reasoning, and applying information to solve work-related problems. The program does such a good job of affirming people’s employable skills and capabilities that Lee County Schools now require each graduating senior to test for the credential.
Finally, the WRC is a huge benefit for employers. They can ask applicants to test for the certification, which measures their employability skills. They can use this tool to evaluate specific candidates to determine whether they are an ideal fit for the position in question. Because so many potential local residents have taken the test, employers can even indicate in their job postings that they prefer an applicant with the Work Ready Certification.
In order to maintain the certification, Lee County simply needs employers already in the program to reaffirm their commitment, or to have additional businesses to sign up. So if you receive a call from the school system or the Chamber, please be sure to join along with the eighty plus companies who are already committed.