07/15/08 — WorkKeys program gets grant

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WorkKeys program gets grant

By Steve Herring
Published in News on July 15, 2008 1:51 PM

A $58,500 grant from North Carolina's Eastern Region Development Commission will allow Wayne Occupational Readiness Keys for Success (WORKS) to offer free WorkKeys Assessments testing to public schools students starting in the fall.

It also will allow career readiness certification to be provided to the general public free or at a reduced rate as long as the funding lasts, said Diane Ivey, Workforce Development coordinator and WORKS director at Wayne Community College.

Normally, the cost of the certification is $30.

Additional Eastern Region funding will be used for job profiling.

Job profiling is the process of examining a particular job in a business to determine the skills and skill levels required for that job, Ms. Ivey explained.

"Profiling helps employers identify, hire and train employees who bring a certain skill set to the job. Our plan is to offer profiles to local businesses to facilitate placement of new workers and training for the existing workforce," she said.

"Information from job profiles can be used to match individuals with jobs, to communicate job requirements in a way that is easily understood and to provide another tool for career exploration and career development."

The countywide WORKS program was developed by Wayne County last year with the assistance of economic development and education leaders to create and market a skilled workforce to address current and future workforce development needs.

Overall, the Eastern Region approved $250,000 per year for the next three years in grants for workforce development initiatives in the commission's 13 counties.

The initial focus in this round of grants was on the region's industrial sectors including, construction, life sciences (health care) and advanced manufacturing (including marine trades).

The grant process began in April when requests for proposals were sent to public K-12 schools, community colleges, workforce development boards, universities, economic development organizations and non-profit groups, as well as business and industry in the region.

WorkKeys, a job skills assessment system that measures real-world skills, is the basis for the National Career Readiness Certificate. The certificate uses assessment scores from applied mathematics, reading for information and locating information to help individuals receive the certificate. WorkKeys Assessments identify 10 foundational workplace skills and help improve job success, Eastern Region officials said.

And by approving these grants, they said they hope to increase WorkKeys certification and individuals in the region with the certification, thus creating a more competitive and marketable workforce.

The system also helps economic developers be more specific in their recruiting efforts by helping them understand their available workforce, and identify gaps and in jobs and employee skills that companies are seeking.

North Carolina's Eastern Region is a 13-county partnership established by the General Assembly to promote economic development in Carteret, Craven, Duplin, Edgecombe, Greene, Jones, Lenoir, Nash, Onslow, Pamlico, Pitt, Wayne and Wilson counties. The region encompasses almost 7,000 square miles and nearly one million residents.

For more information on the workforce development initiatives in the region, contact Kathy Howard, NCER associate vice president, at howard@nceast.org or (252) 522-2400.