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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Saline County joins national workforce readiness program

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Jo Ann Lang, representing the Missouri Career Center in Sedalia, describes the Certified Work Ready Community program during a breakfast meeting sponsored by the Marshall Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors Club. Saline County applied in November to join the program and is making progress toward being a certified community.
(Eric Crump/Democrat-News)
For Marshall city officials, the state Certified Work Ready Communities program looked like an opportunity with good potential benefits and few, if any, costs.

After hearing a presentation Tuesday, Jan. 22, on the program by Jo Ann Lang of the Missouri Career Center in Sedalia, the city signed up to be a partner.

Lang gave a little cheer as Mayor Mark Gooden signed a partnership application form.

The program is intended to document and improve the local work force, benefitting workers and existing businesses and making the community more attractive to new businesses, according to Lang.

The program supports a work readiness test that assesses applied skills in reading, math and locating information.

For workers, earning a National Career Readiness Certificate can improve the chances of landing a job.

Marshall Mayor Mark Gooden signs an application on behalf of the city to join the Certified Work Ready Community program offered through the Missouri Career Center. Marshall-Saline Dev-elopment Corporation and Kent Nutrition Group are already local partners in the program. The program is designed to help workers find jobs, help employers find the best candidates for their jobs and help prospective businesses get a better sense for the local workforce's capabilities. Behind Gooden, Marshall Chamber of Commerce President Gracie Bowes talks with chamber member Chris Nelson. (Eric Crump/Democrat-News)
For employers, the certificate helps find the right worker for the job.

For businesses looking at Saline County as a potential location, the data generated by the assessment gives company officials a clearer picture of the local workforce.

City Administrator Connie Latimer said later that the program looks like a win-win.

"There's no cost to the employeor, and it gives you one more tool to make sure you're hiring the best candidate," she said.

Not only does the certificate give employers a better idea of a worker's skills, but taking the test may be an indication of worker initiative.

The fact that a candidate has taken the test "tells me that's somebody who's really interested in employment," Latimer said.

Lang said the City of Sedalia is a partner and has reported good results by including the NCRC in its hiring process, reporting that some job ads receive fewer responses, but the candidates who do respond are more likely to be qualified for the job.

The test was created by ACT, which is better know for its college-readiness test.

Lang said the test takes several hours. Currently, it is administered at MCC in Sedalia and at State Fair Community College, but she hopes to be able to offer it in Saline County soon. When the test can be given locally depends on interest. The test is given to eight people at a time.

The program targets high school seniors, current workers and workers in transition. Lang said she is working with Marshall Public School District officials on the possibility of getting Marshall High School seniors to take the test this year.

That would help Saline County reach its certification goals.

The county is currently an "in progress" community. In order to be certified as a Work Ready Community, 79 high school seniors, 22 current workers and 47 in-transition workers need to be certified.

Anyone who is interested in taking the test can call MCC at 660-530-5627 to register and receive more information about testing opportunities.

Saline County currently has two business partners in the program, Kent Nutrition Group and Marshall-Saline Development Corporation. Businesses that are interested in following their lead and that of the City of Marshall can contact Stan Moore at MSDC, 660-886-6889 or stan@marshall-saline-dev.com, or Lang at MCC, 660-530-5627.

In addition to Lang, Saline County Career Center Director Derek Lark spoke at the chamber breakfast. He announced that chamber members now qualify for 20 percent discounts on fees for certain continuing education courses, including classes on Microsoft Office and social media applications.

The breakfast was sponsored the chamber Ambassadors Club and was held at Stone Hedge Golf Club.

Contact Eric Crump at ecrump@marshallnews.com


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