Adams County very close to Work Ready certification

Published 12:13 am Sunday, July 17, 2016

NATCHEZ — Adams County has nearly reached its goals in the Miss-Lou’s effort to have the region certified by ACT Inc. as a Work Ready Community.

Only 10 more of the so-called transitioning workers need to be assessed for the county to have completed its part of the Miss-Lou Work Ready initiative.

“Adams County has currently reached 96 percent of its goal to become a Work Ready Community,” said Alcorn State University’s Special Assistant to the President for Community and Economic Development Ruth Nichols, one of the organizers of the effort. “I give Adams County a lot of credit for embracing this.”

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Concordia Parish is at approximately 83 percent of the same goal.

When aiming to test transitioning workers, the Work Ready Initiative gave the test at a recent job fair at the Natchez Mall, an activity that Nichols said will be used as a model by ACT for how to reach people who need to take worker assessments.

The goal of the Work Ready initiative — which Adams County and Concordia Parish are doing jointly — is to have a certain number of the Miss-Lou’s employed, emerging and transitioning workers issued a certification by ACT that details their skill levels in several areas.

Emerging workers are students entering the workforce after college, while transitioning workers are those who are underemployed or unemployed. The goals for employed and emerging workers have already been met, as has a goal of getting 65 employers to support the effort.

The certifications come in four levels, platinum, gold, silver and bronze.

The certifications in theory help employees know what their strengths and weaknesses are, and helps employers better place new hires based on what they can demonstrably do.

Officials with Natchez Inc. have also said the Work Ready Certified Community status is also something industrial prospects look at when they’re evaluating an area.

Once the area has met its goal for the Work Ready certification, it is able to choose a part of the certification process on which to focus. Nichols said the Work Ready team has decided it wants focus on the employer end of the program.

“We want them to really understand the employer end of it, what it can do for them and how they can use it,” she said. “We chose to focus on them because when people get better jobs, that is when our economy — and really, the whole area — takes off.”