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Miller County pushes to enhance workforce

by Andrew Bell | June 6, 2021 at 2:41 a.m.

Miller County and the Texarkana USA Regional Chamber of Commerce have teamed up to engage in the process of becoming a certified ACT Work Ready Community.

This practice demonstrates the county's efforts to develop a strong workforce pipeline that is desirable to employers, economic developers and current and future residents of the county, by providing opportunities for national certification to employees and students in Miller County.

Participants can leverage the ACT WorkKeys National Career Readiness Certificate to measure and close skills gaps in their workforce development efforts.

"Miller County is excited to partner with the Texarkana USA Regional Chamber of Commerce to launch ACT Work Ready Communities initiatives that use the ... ACT WorkKeys NCRC [National Career Readiness Certificate] as the basis for industry-driven efforts that link education, workforce and economic development," Miller County Judge Cathy Harrison said.

Robbin Bass, director of business retention and expansion for the Chamber, said organizers are about three-quarters of the way through the process of receiving a gold star to become a Work Ready Community.

"If we want to expand our local businesses, we need to help them find talented employees," Bass said. "And if we want to bring in new businesses to our area, we have to have talented people in the field working who have taken these credentialing tests to show that [they are] ready to go into the workforce."

Members of the ACT Work Ready Community team will meet with employers, policymakers, educators and economic developers to reach established goals and build a sustainable Work Ready Community model to fit community needs.

"We need our local employers to get on board," she said. "They don't have to require it, but just recognize and recommend it. We also need our [school districts] to get on board with their career technical programs."

Bass said the partners will be working with school districts and career technical education programs so students coming out of high school can take WorkKeys assessments and receive national certifications, with assessments in applied math, workplace documents and graphic literacy.

"They can take that certification and take it anywhere in the United States with them," she said. "Of course, we want them to stay right here."

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