Cumberland to be workforce ready

Published 10:27 am Thursday, April 21, 2016

By Carson Reeher

Special to The Farmville Herald

Cumberland County has begun the two-year process of becoming a Certified Work Ready Community (WRC).

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The accreditation is given by the state of Virginia and American College Testing (ACT) and is recognized nationally. 

According to the ACT website, the WRC certification “empowers states, regions and counties with data, processes and tools that drive economic growth.”

County employee Julie Pfeiffer is the leader of a team of representatives and the economic and workforce development representative for Cumberland’s WRC initiative. Individuals from the county’s administration, the school board, the Virginia Employment Commission and Southside Virginia Community College make up her team. 

Together the group will complete the ACT Academy’s four phases required for certification. Currently they are working on completing phase two.

“The ACT Academy is part of the certification in which two team members must attend four academies, consecutively for a year, learning about the ACT WRC process and how to gain certification. Afterward, the team is given another year to execute their plan and become certified,” said Pfeiffer.

“The initiative will positively impact the community in many ways. It will allow the current, emerging, and transitioning workforce to earn an industry-recognized skill credential identifying their strengths and compatibility with the needs of industry,” said Pfeiffer. “Using the data collected through testing the county can better equip the workforce in our community with the necessary skills it takes to be successful in today’s growing industry.”

Pfeiffer also said that it will help the school system close skill gaps that may exist by incorporating new tools into the courses while giving students industry-recognized credentials.  The way they do this is by administering testing for the National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC)

The NCRC will be given for the first time in Cumberland County through Southside Virginia Community College. The county has not reached the testing stage of the certificate at this time, according to Pfeiffer.

“ACT has the potential to help job seekers and incumbents improve career outcomes, as well as employers and human resource professionals improve hiring, training and promotion decisions,” Pfeiffer said.

The initiative a positive addition to the community as workforce developers can use the data produced from WRC and NCRC to hire skilled employees and trust that their abilities. Over time, this assists economic developers by giving them the data necessary to bring new business and industry to the community.

Pfeiffer said, “Cumberland wanted to be on the forefront of this opportunity, as it continues to gain ground not only in our state but nationwide. The long-term goal for our community is to strengthen our workforce and attract business and industry to our community.”