Rapides Parish participating in workforce initiative - KALB-TV News Channel 5 & CBS 2

Rapides Parish participating in workforce initiative

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Alexandria, La. (KALB News Channel 5 ) - Rapides Parish has announced its participation in the ACT Work Ready Communities initiative, a workforce system designed to assist states and regions in developing their workforce pipeline to provide skilled workers for employers.

Rapides Parish has been accepted into the ACT Work Ready Communities Academy, an executive leadership and training program for local officials.  The Work Ready Communities framework allows each participating community to quantify and improve the skill levels of its workforce through a standardized workforce skill credential and a robust data infrastructure that help measure, identify, and close skill gaps.  Job seekers and current workers are able to certify their foundational skills, and match those with the skills required by area employers, as documented by profiled jobs.

The announcement was made at a Central LA Chamber of Commerce Strategic Lunch at the Sai Convention Center in Alexandria.

The Central Louisiana Chamber is a committed partner in building employer recognition and participation in the ACT Work Ready Community Initiative. Rapides Parish is working toward its ACT Certified Work Ready Community status by implementing these key components:

  • Encouraging individuals to earn an ACT National Career Readiness Certificate™
  • Building employer recognition and support for the initiative.

The Work Ready Community designation will serve as an important economic development tool for the region.

"With the Chamber's commitment to increase membership utilization of WorkKeys, we are that much closer to becoming a certified Work Ready region. This is a very important step towards building a Central Louisiana that is globally competitive," says Jim Clinton, President and CEO of Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance.

The Orchard Foundation has developed the Cenla Work Ready Network, a regional system that provides access to WorkKeys® testing for high school students, unemployed and underemployed adults, and current workers.  The Central Louisiana Technical Community College and Rapides Business and Career Solutions Center serve as testing partners in Rapides Parish, along with area high schools. They also serve on the local Rapides Work Ready Community leadership team, along with local elected officials, The Orchard Foundation, CLEDA, and Gilchrist Construction – a local employer leader in utilizing WorkKeys® for hiring.

Gilchrist Construction has received national recognition for innovation in hiring, based in part on the utilization of WorkKeys®. Gilchrist received the HIRE Award, presented by Innovate+Educate, a national company dedicated to aligning STEM education and workforce development. Judges included representatives of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Jobs for the Future, National Association of Workforce Boards, Society for Human Resources Management, and U.S. News and World Report. The award was presented in Washington, D.C.

As the Rapides Parish team works toward the certification goals, it will empower:

  • Business and industry to identify the foundational skills they need for a productive workforce and easily communicate their needs;
  • Individuals to understand what skills are required by employers and how to prepare themselves for success;
  • Policy makers to consistently measure the skills gap at the national, state, and local levels;
  • Educators with tools and industry-recognized credentials to help close the skills gap; and
  • Economic developers with an on-demand reporting tool to market the quality of the local workforce.

ACT vice president for Community and Economic Development Debra Lyons said, "As a non-profit organization, we have invested in both the data framework and leadership training by offering the Work Ready Communities platform and Academy free of charge to participating states. We expect this to really move the needle for economic development in the states, regions, and communities we serve."

All demographic groups of a community's workforce are addressed. The common building block of the initiative is the ACT Work Ready System consisting of:

  • ACT WorkKeys® assessments: Standardized tests that measure an individual's essential work readiness skills in Applied Mathematics, Reading for Information and Locating Information. According to decades of ACT research, these foundational skills are essential for a majority of today's jobs.
  • ACT National Career Readiness Certificate: A national credential based on assessment results and issued at the Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum level to indicate career readiness.
  • ACT Career Curriculum: ACT KeyTrain® training tools to help individuals improve their skill levels, and ACT Career Ready 101™ to help teachers bring work readiness skills into the classroom.
  • Job Profiles: A job analysis system that helps employers understand the specific ACT WorkKeys assessment scores required for entry into and effective performance in a given job.

To learn more about using WorkKeys in your business, go to www.cenlaworkready.org. If you would like to be contacted by a WorkReady specialist, go to www.Ready2BWorkReady.org or call 318-441-3428.  And, of course, you may call the Chamber at 318-442-6671, and we will make sure you get to the right person.


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