Region first to launch program

Published 9:56 am Wednesday, October 17, 2018

An announcement from neighboring Prince Edward County cited that Virginia’s Region 3, which includes Lunenburg, Brunswick, Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Prince Edward Mecklenburg and Nottoway, is the first region in the nation to invest in earning a Certified Work Ready Community (CWRC) program designation.

Approximately 50 stakeholders in the region gathered at Fort Pickett Sept. 26 to announce the launch of the program.

“The ACT Work Ready Communities initiative is designed to assist a particular area, region or state in developing its workforce pipeline to provide skilled workers for employers,” the release cited. “The framework allows each participating community to quantify and improve the skill levels of its workforce through a standardized workforce skill credential test, managed by Iowa-based ACT.”

To earn the designation as a Certified Work Ready Community, according to the release, the entire region has agreed to equip more than 5,352 individuals in the workforce with a National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) credential and partner with 507 employers supportive of the region’s certification effort within two years.

This program and the NCRC has been the topic of discussion at two separate Lunenburg County Chamber of Commerce meetings. Lee Ann Mahan with the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research, based in Danville, spoke to the chamber about the county further implementing the program, prompting questions from chamber members about what needed to be done to move the program forward.

The 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.

According to a memo from the Virginia Department of Education provided by Mahan, the NCRC assessment and credentials were recently updated to align with some skills needed for the current job market.

“Students who achieve a score of ‘4’ or higher on either of the WorkKeys assessments, Reading for Information or Workplace Documents, may use it to earn verified credit for reading,” the memo cited. “If the students also achieve a score of ‘3’ or higher on the Applied Math and Graphic Literacy assessments, they would also earn the NCRC, thereby satisfying the industry credentialing graduation requirements for the Standard Diploma.”

The test is already available to students at Central High School, Technology Coordinator Natalie Coronas confirmed in an email over the summer.