Local business stresses importance of Work Ready Communities

Published 7:59 pm Wednesday, June 21, 2017

“A step in the right direction.”
That was the popular sentiment shared by county mayors part of the First Tennessee Development District last week during their announcement that the entire Northeast Tennessee region is officially listed on the Work Ready Communities website as participants in the ACT Work Ready Communities initiative.
The county mayors of Carter, Greene, Hancock, Hawkins, Johnson, Unicoi and Washington counties were quick to indicate that this process will help develop the workforce in Northeast Tennessee for the future. Sullivan County, also part of the District, applied first for designation and was already recognized as a participant for the program.
“This is a wonderful, regional collaboration for everyone looking at how to move things forward,” Carter County Mayor Leon Humphrey said during the meeting. “All of these mayors have been working on this for quite some time and put forth the initiative. New partnerships and relationships have formed as a result of the work. As the infrastructure is built out, we can also do a deep dive into the data to see if there are any skills that we need to work on to move our performance from one level to another.
“(This will) allow us to stay committed to do what it takes to track the right businesses to our region,” Humphrey continued. “We firmly believe this will help us keep our current business and industry even stronger.”
With the participation of the counties, high school students and adults can now strive for a National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) — a document that allows employers to see that the individual has achieved certification in three categories: applied math, graphic literacy and workplace documentation.
Various businesses in the Tri-Cities are serving as supporters for their program, including International Paper.
Mandi Gilliland, plant manager for the Elizabethton and Ashland City’s sheet plants, recently stated that Work Ready Community is an important tool for employers due to it providing a “quantifiable” way to know potential employees can be successful.
“As I have learned by attending academies — because test takers receive scores that translate to what is required for specific positions — employers can be more confident in hiring the right person the first time,” stated Gilliland. “There are documented case studies showing reduced hiring costs, reduced churn and reduced workers compensation costs for companies who utilize the NCRC process.”
Visit www.workreadycommunities.org to learn more about the program and to check the status of the counties in the area.

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