“The state of Georgia set the criteria. It is based upon each county’s demographics to make it fair for everyone,” said Pike County Chamber of Commerce President Karen Brown.
Brown said the certification is based upon personal assessments of math skills, reading and comprehension and locator skills taken by county residents. For Pike County, the assessments were categorized to include individuals in both the public and private sector; technical college graduates; current high school students; General Educational Development (GED) recipients; unemployed adults; and recent high school graduates entering the work force.
“We had 507 work ready certificates earned,” Brown said. “I think our goal was 498.”
In addition to awarding work ready certificates to those who qualify, the state-sponsored program also provides free training to those who failed in order to prepare them for retesting.
“The governor’s goal is to prove that Georgia residents are prepared to go to work for prospective companies that may be interested in coming to our state,” Brown said.
She went on to say that just as the certification may aid Georgia’s business development, Pike County also stands to benefit.
“One of the things we believe will happen is that it will help us from an economic development perspective because businesses that may be interested in locating in this area will know that our residents are prepared and ready to go to work for them. I think that’s huge in this area,” Brown said. “I also think it’s a matter of pride for the county to say that we are among the first dozen in the state to achieve this status.”
Brown went on to say that not only is Pike County among the first in the state to achieve the work ready designation, it was done as an “accelerated county.”
“We were an accelerated county, which means that we had a 12-month time frame to achieve the results to become work ready instead of the standard 18 months,” she said.
“When this program first came out, we were eligible to apply for a grant. We received that grant — it was $30,000. We used those grant funds to achieve the status in a shortened time frame.”
Brown believes the benefits from Pike County’s work ready certification will not be isolated to area businesses, but will also affect those residents who received individual certification.
“We are also encouraging local businesses to give preference to individuals who have become work ready,” Brown said. “Some of our businesses have already committed to doing that.”