North Louisiana ranks in the top three for the largest ACT Work Ready Communities (WRC) coordinated initiative in the nation.
Twelve North Louisiana parishes launched their ACT WRC certification campaigns and branded this combined effort North Louisiana Ready2Work. Two of the 12 parishes, DeSoto and Ouachita have already completed their certification requirements and have been designated an ACT Work Ready Community. The other 10 parishes still working toward achieving their certification include Bienville, Bossier, Caddo, Claiborne, Jackson, Lincoln, Morehouse, Richland, Union and Webster Parishes.
North Louisiana Economic Partnership (NLEP), an Accredited Economic Development Organization, has been facilitating individual parish efforts with financial support, guidance and the coordination of a June 2019 ACT WRC Bootcamp in Ruston for five of the parishes.
“We congratulate the North Louisiana Economic Partnership region for becoming one of the largest coordinated ACT Work Ready Community regions in the nation,” said Cheri Tune, regional manager, ACT Work Ready Communities. “This validates that North Louisiana is successfully developing a workforce pipeline to help individuals meet their educational and career goals, as well as demonstrating they are developing an awareness in the business community of the benefits to hiring an individual armed with an ACT WorkKeys NCRC.”
She continued, “While the ACT Work Ready Community certification provides irrefutable proof as to the quality of the workforce, it’s local efforts like these that reveal what can be accomplished when they collaborate and leverage the data to make a difference. We truly value our partnership with the North Louisiana Economic Partnership and the local Parish teams who are working hard to make this a success. We look forward to more huge accomplishments in the future.”
ACT WRC certification is part of a larger workforce development system, designed to assist a community, region or state in developing its workforce pipeline to provide skilled workers for employers. The workforce system allows communities to quantify and improve the skill levels of its workforce through a standardized three-part exam called ACT WorkKeys®. Students and workers passing the WorkKeys® exam receive a workforce credential—the ACT WorkKeys® National Career Readiness Certificate™ (NCRC). Currently, there are 16,942 students and workers who have earned an ACT WorkKeys® NCRC in the twelve participating parishes in North Louisiana, and 142,740 throughout Louisiana as a whole.
At the same time, the community works with its employers to understand what foundational skills they need for a productive workforce. Employers can use the NCRC to better screen and hire workers that fulfill their needs. Additionally, individual workers can better understand what skills are required by employers and how to prepare themselves for success. NLEP and partners have hosted several WorkKeys Lunch and Learns for HR professionals to educate them on how to use the ACT WorkKeys system to successfully screen, hire and promote personnel, and expect to host a new round in early 2020. Upcoming WorkKeys events in North Louisiana events can be found at www.northlouisianaready2work.org.
“We are proud of how our regional partners have come together as parish teams to educate themselves and their communities on the ACT WorkKeys assessment,” said Angie White, NLEP senior vice president, Workforce. “Regional businesses regularly tell us that they are looking for trainable employees, and that is exactly what a WorkKeys certificate demonstrates: an individual’s trainability for a specific job. We believe this tool is a game changer and want to educate as many employers as we can to the ways it can save them time and money in the hiring and promotion process.”
In order to be certified as an ACT Work Ready Community, a community must meet certain goals within two years, including using the ACT WorkKeys exam to test their existing, emerging and transitional workforce and gaining support from employers. A certain percentage of their workforce must earn a NCRC.
To support WRC efforts, NLEP received grants from the AEP Foundation, the Community Foundation of North Louisiana and JPMorgan Chase & Co. to assist with ACT Work Ready Communities initiatives in North Louisiana.