Initiative could develop workforce

Published 1:35 pm Thursday, December 22, 2016

Cumberland County recently announced its participation in the ACT Work Ready Communities initiative, a workforce system designed to assist states and regions in developing their workforce to provide skilled workers for employers.

In a press release, county officials said Cumberland was accepted in January into the ACT Work Ready Communities Academy, which provides an executive leadership and training program for officials.

Vivian Seay Giles

Vivian Seay Giles

“The Work Ready Communities framework allows each participating community to quantify and improve the skill levels of its workforce through a standardized workforce skill credential and a robust data infrastructure that helps measure, identify and close skill gaps,” officials said in the release.

For the past several years, Cumberland County’s small business base has grown very little. The county’s employment rate last year was 5.3 percent — the same as that of the national rate, while greater than Virginia’s.

“From my perspective, workforce development is a critical need across the state,” County Administrator and Attorney Vivian Seay Giles said. “So everything that Cumberland can do to be at the forefront of the development of existing workforce and for the development of our future workforce is imperative.”

Giles called the program a platform from which the county can reach out to existing businesses “all of whom are welcome to join into this initiative” and a manner to develop the county’s workforce for new businesses.

According to the release, Cumberland is working towards its ACT Certified Work Ready Community status by encouraging individuals to earn an ACT National Career Readiness Certificate and building employer recognition and support for the initiative.