JACKSON – Three counties in the Hinds Community College district have joined a growing list of communities in Mississippi working to be recognized as a job-ready workforce.
At least 100 employers each in Hinds, Warren and Rankin counties must agree to begin recognizing the National Career Readiness Certificate in order for each county to be certified an ACT Work Ready Community. The national credential is a portable, industry-recognized standard of achievement that identifies proficiency in three key areas for landing jobs of today – reading for information, applied math and locating information. The national initiative is headed up by ACT, the nation’s leading college admissions testing company.
Beginning this month, Hinds Community College is administering the NCRC exam to Adult Basic Education and Career-Technical Education students, as well as to current employees from industry partners. WIN Job Centers in the three counties, as well as in Madison County, will begin administering it to clients in each community who are applying for jobs.
“The way this has become successful is multiple entities have come to the table in a collaborative partnership.” said Dr. Robin Parker, district director of Integrated Pathways and coordinator of Adult Basic Education at Hinds. “We are all combining resources in an effort to give opportunities for good jobs for the citizens we serve.”
Partnering on the effort are the GJCP, Hinds Community College, Holmes Community College, Rankin First, Hinds County Economic Development Authority, the Warren County Port Commission Economic Development Foundation, Madison County Economic Development Authority, Mississippi Department of Education, Central Mississippi Planning and Development District and WIN Job Centers in the region.
“We want to be on the cutting edge of workforce development,” said Duane O’Neill, president of the Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership during the organization’s annual meeting Wednesday, Jan. 18, when the effort launched officially. “It’s a priority with site selectors of companies looking to go someplace. With this program and certification, it tells the employers how the people taking it fit into the workforce.”
Issued at four levels – bronze, silver, gold, and platinum – the ACT NCRC helps take the guesswork out of hiring, training, and promotion decisions. Funding from the Mississippi Department of Education will allow career-tech students in the Jackson, Hinds County, Vicksburg-Warren and Rankin school districts to complete the NCRC.
“Economic development has changed over the past few years,” said Greg Word, senior vice president of economic development for GJCP. “In the past, communities could bring a site selector to the area, show the future site and discuss the ease of distribution of the goods that could be manufactured at the site. Now, site selectors are asking for data to prove that the community is work ready. The ACT Work Ready Community initiative will help our state and regional economic developers quantify the work readiness of our community.”