County pursuing work ready certification

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Industrial Foundation issues letter of intent to state

By Marty Finley

A state certification indicating the healthiness of a local workforce is now being pursued in Hardin County.

A letter of intent has been issued by the Elizabethtown-Hardin County Industrial Foundation to obtain standing in the Kentucky Work Ready Communities Program. The program is administered by the Kentucky Workforce Investment Board and Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet.

The certification provides assurance to employers that Hardin County has local talent and skill sets necessary to fill jobs and “master the innovative technologies new jobs will require.”

Rick Games, president of the foundation, will serve as county team leader, presiding over a committee that includes representation from educational institutions, local government and private industry. The steering committee already has met once and divided into subcommittees, Games said.

To become certified, counties must have a satisfactory rating in six areas: high school graduation rate, National Career Readiness Certification holders, demonstrated community commitment, educational attainment, soft-skills development and digital literacy.

“We feel quite sure we can get really close,” Games said.

Acquiring the designation, he said, would show Hardin County’s ability to recruit new industry in a favorable light, demonstrating that the county’s labor pool is intelligent, educated and skilled enough to meet the needs of growing businesses. It also would assist existing manufacturers in educating the public on the type of standards industry want when choosing a community to establish a presence.

“It’s just another tool in the tool box,” Games said, crediting the state for establishing the program as a way to show prospective clients that communities in the state are working together to improve their business climates.

Applications will be analyzed and considered later this year by a panel appointed by the Kentucky Workforce Investment Board. Leadership from applicable counties will then have a chance to offer presentations explaining why their county is worthy of consideration and to field questions from the panel.

Kentucky is the third state to offer the certification.

“The quicker we can create the best workforce, the quicker we can differentiate our county and attract and grow jobs,” said Scott Freyberger, training consortium chairman for the foundation and representative of Mouser Cabinetry, in a statement. “By identifying the gaps and carrying out strategies to enlarge the pool of qualified talent, we will help our local businesses and the companies we want in our community to compete.”

Marty Finley can be reached at 270-505-1762 or mfinley@thenewsenterprise.com.