July 6, 2013

Danville, Va. (Thursday, July 4, 2013) – The Dan River Region Collaborative (DRRC) was awarded recently two grants totaling $224,700 to help primarily the unemployed secure employment sooner than later.

The first grant award is for $142,200 from the Virginia Tobacco Commission to subsidize 2,400 testing fees associated with the National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC), which measures a person’s skills in applied math, reading comprehension and the location of information.

“For the last nine months, we have been meeting with employers in our growing industry sectors of advanced manufacturing, healthcare, energy and informational technology, who have said they need a way to validate foundational skills in reading and applied mathematics,” said DRRC’s Project Manager Julie Brown.

“In response to these needs, in partnership with our regional community colleges, we have brought to the region the NCRC, which we view will not only get transitional and emerging workers employed faster, but also will position Southern Virginia as the first region in the country to earn the designation as a Certified Work Ready Community, which will help our economic developers quantify to prospects our talented workforce,” she said.

Formally launched on June 21st, the Certified Work Ready Community initiative will create a new regional workforce story where competencies are defined by skill, not just educational attainment.

To date, 37 employers have signed on in support of the credential and are having employees take the NCRC assessment, providing feedback as to how it will be valued in their hiring and promotion practices.

The second grant is for $82,500 from the National Fund of Workforce Solutions and the U. S. Department of Labor’s Social Innovation Fund (SIF) to subsidize half of employers’ on-the-job-training costs for new hires.

Brown said these subsidy opportunities have proven to be a good investment. Prior to the SIF grant, DRRC was awarded $53,100 from the Boeing Foundation to support 18 new OJT placements at three manufacturers in the region – four at RTI in Martinsville, seven at Amthor in Gretna and seven at Intertape Polymer Group in Danville.

“To date, 17 of 18 new OJT placements were still employed at wages averaging $15.50 per hour,” she said.

Anyone interested in taking the NCRC should contact Brown directly at 434/836-5674 and she will put you in contact with the appropriate person at one of the following participating community colleges: Danville, Patrick Henry and Southside Virginia.

Employers interested in learning more about DRRC’s subsided OJTs also should contact Brown.

DRRC is a consortium of regional private foundations, chambers of commerce, economic developers and workforce investment boards with a common goal to cultivate long-term, sustainable workforce partnerships as a catalyst for economic growth in the Southern Virginia region of Danville and Martinsville and the counties of Halifax, Henry, Patrick and Pittsylvania.  For additional information about the Collaborative, go to www.danriverrc.org.