Celebrating workforce achievement

Published 5:24 pm Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Lunenburg County representatives, employers and Virginia officials celebrated a milestone Tuesday, being the first county in the region, and the seventh county in Virginia, to achieve a Work Ready Community status.

Speakers at the event, which was held at the Benchmark Community Bank’s conference center in the Town of Kenbridge, included Lunenburg County Administrator Tracy Gee, Lunenburg County Public Schools (LCPS) Superintendent Charles Berkley Jr. and Lunenburg County Planner Glenn Millican.

The Work Ready Community status is established by the ACT, the same organization that developed the ACT standardized test.

A county can be considered a Work Ready Community if enough students have obtained an ACT National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC), and if enough employers use the NCRC as a screening tool for qualified potential employees.

Lunenburg County, in April, exceeded the threshold of emerging, current and transitional workforce employees who have obtained the NCRC, as well as the number of employers in the county that use the NCRC as a screening tool for potential employees.

The keynote for the event was Dr. Megan Healy, Chief Workforce Development Advisor to the Governor Office of Ralph Northam. Healy emphasized the importance of strengthening potential employees, and matching them with employers who are seeking workers.

“The economy is good,” Healy said, noting that employers have jobs available. She said Virginia officials are continuing to implement programs that help potential employees leave the sidelines and enter the workforce.

One such program, the NCRC, can serve as a way to demonstrate to employers that potential employees have what it takes to do the job they are applying for, which saves employers money in the long run.

High school and college students can obtain an NCRC through testing available at Central High School and Southside Virginia Community College.

The NCRC tests students’ knowledge on foundational skills needed in the workforce, such as applied mathematics and graphic literacy.

Other localities in Virginia that have the Work Ready Community status include Halifax County, Patrick County, Henry County, Pittsylvania County and Danville City.

Neil Burke, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Benchmark Community Bank, said many employers are seeking to improve retention and recruitment of employees. Taking steps to improve retention and recruitment can help prevent high employee turnover, and ensure that companies are hiring employees who, from day one, demonstrate the skills needed for the job.

Dr. Julie Brown with the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research, praised Lunenburg for only taking one year to reach the Work Ready Community threshold.

Lunenburg County Planner Glenn Millican praised the representatives who made the Work Ready Community achievement possible, including LCPS teachers for instructing the students who received the NCRC, and said the achievement represented the beginning of a bright future for Lunenburg employees and employers.

“This is a wonderful day,” Millican said.