Gov. Jay Nixon today announced that Jasper County has been designated as the nation's first Certified Work Ready Community by American College Testing (ACT). ACT is the nonprofit organization responsible for the college admissions test taken by more than 1.6 million high school graduates every year. The designation by ACT helps Jasper County attract new businesses and new jobs. The Governor made the announcement at the Franklin Technology Center Office in Joplin, where he was joined by local business and community leaders.
"Strengthening Missouri's workforce has been a top priority of my administration from Day One, so we are extremely proud to be among the first states participating in this initiative," Gov. Nixon said. "For Jasper County, home to the Joplin metro area, to become the very first ACT Certified Work Ready Community in the nation is another testament to this community's resilience and its commitment to rebuilding its economy stronger, and smarter, than ever before."
Last year, Missouri was selected as one of first four states to participate in the Certified Work Ready Communities initiative by ACT. The initiative aligns workforce training programs with the economic development needs of communities; matches appropriate applicants to jobs based on skill level; and strengthens businesses by strengthening the workforce.
More than 80 local employers, educational institutions, and workforce development organizations supported Jasper County's efforts to achieve this important certification. By participating in ACT's Certified Work Ready Communities initiative, Jasper County is:
Helping workers understand what skills are required by employers, and how to prepare themselves for success;
Helping businesses effectively communicate their workforce needs to area education and workforce training programs;
Providing educators with the tools needed to close the skills gap by establishing career pathways for students with stackable industry-recognized credentials; and
Equipping economic development organizations with an on-demand reporting tool to promote the quality of their workforce.
"Congratulations to Jasper County for being the first community in the country to achieve this certification, and for demonstrating that the workers here have the skills and training necessary to compete - and win - in the global economy," Gov. Nixon said. "By investing in our workforce and embracing innovative initiatives like this one, we will continue to send the loud and clear message that Missouri is the best place in the world to create jobs, because we have the best workers in the world to do them."
In addition to Jasper County, 13 Missouri counties have also earned 'in progress' status and are on track to become fully certified within two years. Those counties are Adair, Butler, Cape Girardeau, Clay, Franklin, Henry, Howell, Jefferson, Linn, Pettis, Ripley, Saline and St. Francois.