June 24, 2013
Southern Virginia commits to becoming 'Work Ready'

The stopwatch has started and the countdown has begun.


Southern Virginia is the first region in the country to commit to earning the designation, “Certified Work Ready Community.” The effort launched Friday in Martinsville.


“We have two years to meet our goals as far as business engagement and the number of people who get the National Career Readiness Certificate,” said Julie Brown, project director of the Dan River Regional Collaborative.


Speaking at the formal announcement, Danville-Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce president and chair of the DRRC, Laurie Moran, said when she went to work for the Chamber in 2002, the Chamber identified workforce development as its number one priority. In 2013, she said, the Chamber’s number one priority is still workforce development.


One of the challenges has been for the region to overcome the fact that its workforce does not have the level of education attainment as other parts of the Commonwealth and across the country, putting the region’s industrial recruitment efforts at a disadvantage, said Leigh Cockram, executive director of the Southern Virginia Regional Alliance, which represents Danville and Martinsville and the counties of Halifax, Henry, Patrick and Pittsylvania, which is the same footprint as DRRC.


“It is unfair, because we do have a great qualified workforce,” but prospects cannot tell if they look only at levels of educational attainment, she said.


“Our region is taking a proactive approach to tell our own workforce story,” by measuring skills attainment instead, Cockram said.


Brown said skill attainment is measured with the National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) “with the intent to link, align and match our workforce to the needs of industry in a sustainable infrastructure.”


Within two years, to earn the designation as a Certified Work Ready Community, the entire region has agreed to have more than 2,311 individuals in the workforce with a NCRC credential and 287 employers who will support the region’s effort to achieve this status, according to Brown.


Brown said anyone can monitor the region’s progression by going to http://www.workreadycommunities.org/.


Work It, SoVa