ROGERSVILLE — Hawkins County is one of the first counties in Northeast Tennessee to be certified as a Work Ready Community.
The Work Ready Community certification is a nationally recognized designation that provides evidence that a county, region or state has developed strong partnerships among education, industry and economic development; and that these groups are working together to strengthen the local workforce.
Hawkins County’s certification effort was spearheaded by Cooper Standard Human Resources Manager Gabrielle Buchanan and Hawkins County Industrial Development Board Coordinator Rebecca Baker.
“This is really exciting for us,” Baker told the IDB Thursday. “This basically says that you have a certified workforce here. When we have companies that want to come in, that’s one of the big things they want to know, is if we’ve got the workforce. They like the incentives, but if you don’t have the workforce, they don’t want to talk to you.”
Baker added, “We did a regional thing where hopefully all of Northeast Tennessee is getting certified for this. We don’t gather our workforce just from Hawkins County. We get them from Sullivan County, Greene County, Hamblen County — all the way up into Virginia and Kentucky. Our workforce comes from all areas of this region.”
Hawkins County’s Work Ready Community effort was launched last year. Organizers had two years to complete the requirements but were able to finish in slightly more than one year.
The WorkKeys is a series of assessments, developed by ACT, Inc., that measure various workplace skills and determine an individual’s level of work readiness.
The standard WorkKeys assessments measure the top three competencies that are essential to more than 77 percent of all U.S. jobs. These three are typically given as a set: Applied Mathematics; Reading for Information; and Locating Information.
Individuals who successfully complete the standard WorkKeys assessments will earn a National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC), which is a portable, evidence-based credential that verifies an individual’s potential for workplace success.
“Gabrielle Buchanan from Cooper Standard and Rebecca have spent countless hours trying to get this, so accolades to their efforts to get this for Hawkins County,” said IDB Chairman Larry Elkins.