Work certification discussed

Published 4:32 pm Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Lee Ann Mahan with the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research, based in Danville, spoke about the push to get workforce certification for students in southside Virginia during the Lunenburg Chamber of Commerce meeting Thursday.

The National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC), an assessment made by the organization that creates the ACT standardized tests, tests students’ knowledge on the skills needed to excel in the workforce. This includes testing on soft skills, such as punctuality and decorum in a professional setting.

Mahan said the certificates would be available to students in southern Virginia at their high schools and colleges. The ACT has goals that counties can meet to be considered Certified Work Ready Communities. If a certain number of students receive the NCRC certification, in the case of Lunenburg, 62, the county could be a step closer to being considered a Work Ready Community.

“These goals are, as I say, these are baby steps,” Mahan said. “You’re taking these goals that you have right now to become a certified work ready community, as you can see they are easily attainable … You have two years, it’s not going to take two years, but after you get that certification, your goal’s going up. Because the whole purpose is to increase the skill force. At the end of the day, you’re going to have a skilled workforce, and enough skilled workforce to promote industry growth in your community.”

Mahan noted that having area employers recognize the NCRC and use it as a way to consider potential employees is also part of creating a work ready community.

Chamber member Mike Hankins noted that initiatives to generate a stronger workforce in the county could benefit the area economically.

“Twenty-five years ago we lost a lot of good employers in the county,” Hankins said. “We have several strikes against us already. We don’t have a four-lane highway through the county and technically we don’t have a railroad … a lot of the kind of stuff employers look for we don’t have. We do have some things going for us. We have a good school system, we do have the lowest commercial property, real estate property tax in the state … If we don’t do something to kind of change things around, we’re going to rot and blow away. Our county is projected to lose population. As it loses population, those of us who stay here are going to have to pay more taxes for the same services.”

John Long, principal of Central High School, confirmed that the school gave students the opportunity to take the NCRC assessment. He said the students took the test on Monday.