HC designated ‘work-ready’ community
J.C. Lyell, Staff Writer, [email protected]
Harrison County has been officially designated as a work-ready community by The ACT, a national college and career readiness testing agency. The accolade comes thanks to an initiative from the Harrison County Economic Development Corp.
Tom Fields, HCEDC’s director of communications and business expansion, said that two years ago the corporation started the process of promoting the Workkeys National Career Readiness Certificate exam for Harrison County employers and members of the workforce.
“We thought that it would be an opportunity both for people to get jobs and for employers to find the people looking for the jobs,” he said.
To achieve status as a work-ready community, the county needed a specific number of individuals in three workforce categories — current, transitioning and emerging — to earn a certificate from the test. At least 34 employers also had to recognize or recommend the certificates.
With these goals met, this month, Harrison County became the first county in the southern half of Indiana to receive the work-ready community designation.
Corydon Central and South Central high schools have already administered the exam for about 230 seniors ready to enter post-secondary education or the workforce, and, moving forward, future senior classes will take the test as well.
The NCRC exam resembles the ACT’s college readiness test and awards different levels of career-readiness certificates based on the test-takers’ scores. It consists of three assessment categories: applied math, workplace documents and graphic literacy.
“There are many jobs out there that this applies to,” Fields said.
Thinking beyond just students, Fields said the test can help anyone add to their qualifications, including those in the military or people who are incarcerated.
He said the exam has been taken by about 120 of the county’s “transitioning” employees, meaning people who are unemployed or looking to change their field of work. About 80 current members of the workforce have received certifications as well.
Fields said the test benefits those who earn certificates by bolstering their qualifications, which could give them a leg up against others when competing for employment.
It also makes sense for employers to adopt or recommend the test as a hiring parameter because it can reveal a potential employee’s aptitude for different skills, he said. In the same vein, a company having a high portion of its staff certified is indicative of an educated workforce.
Any employment-eligible person can take the test for a fee of about $12 per module for the three assessments. The exam is also offered in Spanish.
Testing sites in Harrison County include the South Harrison Community School Corp. and the Harrison County Lifelong Learning Center in Corydon.
Fields said the HCEDC is looking to soon add the Harrison County Justice Center to that list.
For more information about Harrison County employers who recognize or recommend the NCRC, visit https://workreadycommunities.org/IN/061.