RICHMOND — Madison County is the first community in Kentucky to graduate from Kentucky Work Ready Communities in Progress certification to the Kentucky Work Ready Communities level, according to the Kentucky Workforce Investment Board (KWIB).
Twenty-two other counties are working toward the Kentucky Work Ready Communities certification as a way to strengthen and market their local workforce.
The Kentucky Work Ready Communities certification program from the Kentucky Workforce Investment Board (KWIB) and the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet assures employers that a local workforce has the talent and skills necessary to staff existing jobs and to master the innovative technologies new jobs will require.
“Pursuing the Kentucky Work Ready Communities certification is a difficult process but it is well worth the investment of local leaders’ time, energy and talent,” said Ed Holmes, chair of KWIB.
To achieve the Kentucky Work Ready Communities designation, a county must gather local support and commitment and apply for the certification. Counties have to meet criteria in six areas including high school graduation rate, National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) holders, demonstrated community commitment, educational attainment, soft-skills development and digital literacy.
Richmond Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Mendi Goble said working toward the Kentucky Work Ready Communities certification was an eye-opening experience because community leaders from business, government and education were all working together for the first time.
“You can’t put a price on getting a university, school system, city, county, business and industry together,” said Goble. “For the first time, we were all in the same room talking about the same issue which was our local workforce and how to promote and measure work ethic, critical thinking and other workplace skills.”
Currently, 23 counties have been designated as Kentucky Work Ready Communities in Progress because they are close to meeting the Kentucky Work Ready Community criteria. To achieve this level, a county must present a viable plan to meet all of the criteria within three years. The designation shows that a community is making strides and working with its business, education, workforce and economic development leaders to set and meet common goals that will give the county an economic edge.