The Jones County Economic Development Authority in partnership with Jones College’s Workforce College received confirmation from the national organization, ACT Work Ready Communities, that Jones County has met all the requirements to be certified as a Work Ready Community.

“Congratulations to Jones County for becoming an ACT Work Ready Community and joining a growing list of counties dedicated to building a robust workforce,” said ACT Regional Manager of Workforce Initiatives, Tony Garife. “The efforts of the county leadership to achieve WRC certification will provide the community with a tremendous economic development advantage and help it stand out for its workforce development efforts.”

Eighty companies participated in this initiative in Jones County which means they had to agree to either recognize, recommend or require the ACT or NCRC (National Career Readiness Certification) as part of the employment application process. These national standardized certifications through the ACT Work Ready Community program gives counties data and tools to help drive economic growth by identifying skill gaps and quantifying the skill level of the workforce. Utilizing these established indicators helps business and industry quickly determine the success of establishing business and industry in any given area.

“Each county that earns this desired certification is committed to improving an area's workforce because these guidelines are becoming the industry standard. The ACT Work Ready Certification assists existing and new businesses and industries in developing the future workforce’s capabilities. Jones County looks very appealing now with this certification, “said Ross Tucker, Jones County EDA Executive Director.

This process must be completed within two years however, Jones County met all the goals established by ACT within one year. Tucker attributes this success due to the support from business and industry, and Jones College’s Workforce College.

“One purpose of Jones College Workforce is to assist business and industry with their training needs. This is done through education and developing training programs for pre-employment and continuing education. The ACT Work Ready Community initiative fits nicely within our mission and has been exemplified by the establishment of Jones College’s Work Ready course. This course is required of all Jones College students as it contains vital employability skills and the NCRC. Jones is also expanding the Smart Start Pathway - SSP 1002 course into local high schools. Laurel High School and Enterprise High School are the first two schools to incorporate the class into its course offerings,” said Jennifer Griffith, Dean of Workforce College at Jones College.

According to the ACT Work Ready Community website, the foundation of a community's certification is based on individuals at the county level across the current, transitioning and emerging workforce earning these credentials and employers recognizing them as a portable, industry-recognized credential that clearly identifies an individual’s WorkKeys® skills in workplace documents, applied math and graphic literacy, which are required skills for 77 percent of jobs based on the ACT JobPro database.

The new designation should have a positive, economic impact soon, according to Tucker. For more information at www.workreadycommunities.org. and Jones County information Jones County or Jones College Workforce College at 601-477-4114.

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