City and county officials gathered Thursday at the Lowery A. Woodall Advanced Technology Center in Hattiesburg to celebrate the planned inclusion of Greater Hattiesburg – including all of Forrest and Lamar Counties – as an ACT Work Ready Community.
The program, which is the result of a partnership between the Area Development Partnership and Pearl River Community College, is designed to offer advancement of workforce development practices in the region.
“Workforce development is integral to economic development and to the vibrancy of all facets of our business community in Greater Hattiesburg,” said Daniel Jayroe, community development director at the ADP. “For this reason, workforce development efforts are at the top of the ADP’s priority list.
“The ADP is constantly looking for new ways to enhance these efforts, which has led the organization, in close partnership with PRCC, to pursue the ACT Work Ready Communities certification.”
Becoming a Work Ready Community will provide the ability to gauge the strength of the region’s future, transitioning and current workforce through the completion of the ACT WorkKeys testing. The resulting National Career Readiness Certificates gained from the test will not only help industry and businesses as they seek new hires, but it will also help future and current job seekers as they look for employment.
“Many people are familiar with the ACT college entrance exam, which the ACT WorkKeys test can be easily compared to,” said Terri Clark, dean of career, technical and workforce education at PRCC. “The outcome of a traditional ACT exam may be admittance to a college or university, but the outcome of an ACT WorkKeys exam could be landing the job that you have been seeking.”
Instead of receiving a score in the form of a numeral like the traditional ACT exam, ACT WorkKeys test-takers receive their score on a four-tier system, either gaining a Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum, with Platinum being the highest rank. These scores come in the form of a National Career Readiness Certificate and are based on how well test-takers do in three categories: applied math, workplace documents and graphic literacy.
Employers can use NCRC scores to gauge job applicants based on their overall score or individual category scores achieved. NCRC scores also can be used in the workplace for purposes of job advancement.
The scores provide a method of pre-employment screening for multiple hiring levels and job advancement in any industry – including but not limited to – healthcare, tourism and hospitality, education, banking and financial institutions and government entities.
To become certified as an ACT Work Ready Community, testing goals – which are based on community demographics – must be met over a two-year period. The goals can be found online at www.workreadycommunities.org/MS by clicking on the Forrest and Lamar county links on the map.
Job seekers who are interested in taking the ACT WorkKeys exam and earning the NCRC can visit the WIN Job Center for free testing opportunities.