To win in the 21st Century, communities must prove the quality and availability of the workforce to meet the needs of new and growing businesses. The National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) is quickly becoming the preferred resource for local businesses in Southwest Missouri to hire only the best while saving money and boosting productivity. Building on the success of the NCRC, towns now have a competitive edge to demonstrate workforce preparedness. The Certified Work Ready Communities (CWRC) initiative provides an independent endorsement on the quality of the workforce and the community’s ability to meet business growth demands. The WIB of Southwest Missouri helps communities adopt and prepare for CWRC.

All of the Southwest Missouri counties served by the WIB participate in CWRC together with neighboring counties in the Joplin Regional Partnership. With most counties already certified, the WIB works with local employer and community champions to help maintain the certification with ACT. Contact Frank Neely at the WIB for assistance with CWRC research, WorkKeys Job Profiling, and other outreach tools for CWRC.

Selling points for CWRC are strong for businesses, community leaders, educators, and economic developers alike.

  • Business and industry know exactly what foundational skills they need for a productive workforce – and to easily communicate their needs
  • Individuals understand what skills are required by employers – and how to prepare themselves for success
  • Policy-makers consistently measure the skills gap in a timely manner at the national, state and local levels
  • Educators close the skills gap, via tools integrated into career pathways with stackable industry-recognized credentials
  • Economic developers use an on-demand reporting tool to market the quality of their workforce

Strategic Partnerships Crucial to CWRC

For the Work Ready Communities initiative to be successful, everyone within the individual communities of a county helps its become certified. As communities rally around boosting the quality and availability of the workforce, the coalitions that form will often attract individuals and entities with a passion for economic prosperity. ACT’s National Workforce Solutions Advisory Board envisions community-based workforce partnerships with vital roles for industry, individuals, policy- makers, educators, and economic developers.

  • INDUSTRY identifies the foundational skills they need for a productive workforce;
  • INDIVIDUALS can understand what skills are required by employers;
  • POLICY MAKERS can consistently measure the skills gap across the nation;
  • EDUCATORS have tools to close the skills gap;
  • ECONOMIC DEVELOPERS have an on-demand reporting tool to market their workforce.

As the main drivers of CWRC include the emerging, transitioning, and current workforce, strategic partners will naturally gravitate along those categories. Some categories will have universal appeal to business sectors associations, chambers of commerce, and economic development organizations. Leaders in the education sector are important to participate from all levels of K12, technical education, and colleges. Community organizations, such as a Rotary Club, can provide a circle of influence with business and community leaders. Elected officials play an important role as well. The workforce development sector is represented regionally through Job Centers and liaisons with education and economic development.