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Haley releases guidelines for Work Ready initiative

Staff Report
Published Nov. 26, 2012

The application and guidelines for counties that want to participate in the South Carolina Work Ready Communities initiative are now available, Gov. Nikki Haley said today.

South Carolina is one of four states to participate in the ACT Certified Work Ready Community pilot program, which aims to make states more competitive and close the skills gap.

The South Carolina initiative will certify the quality of a county’s workforce based on high school graduation rates, soft skills development, business support and the number of National Career Readiness Certificate holders.

The certificate from the Iowa-based testing company ACT is a portable credential that demonstrates achievement of a job candidate’s skills in applied mathematics, locating information and reading for information.

“We’re participating in the Certified Work Ready Communities initiative because this program offers a nationally recognized and respected credential that shows businesses that South Carolina has the workforce and expertise that they need in order to grow,” Haley said.

Haley offered details of the program during a news conference at Orangeburg-based manufacturer Zeus Inc.

The company, which makes polymer extrusions, supports WorkKeys, a pre-employment test for documenting and improving the basic math and reading skills of workers.

All new manufacturing workers at Zeus, which employs 1,200, must take the WorkKeys test — also developed by ACT — and score proficient to qualify for a job.

“Zeus believes strongly in ensuring and improving the work skills of all its employees,” said company CEO John M. Worley Jr. “WorkKeys is not just a good business practice; it also gives our employees a sense of pride about the work they perform and helps to improve the overall quality of the workforce in South Carolina.”

Having a qualified and skilled workforce is the backbone for economic prosperity, said Lewis F. Gossett, president and CEO of the South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance.

“Through this cooperative local approach that aligns economic development, education and workforce development, South Carolina will be able to demonstrate we have a ready workforce that can be competitive,” Gossett said.