Leaders hear benefits of workforce testing

Published 4:43 pm Thursday, May 4, 2017

Leaders hear benefits of workforce testing

Jackie Sharpe (left) and Angel Contreras, plant manager and HR manager of GE Aviation Batesville, respectively, were two of 30 participants at Thursday’s meeting relating to national career readiness through ACT career readiness certification. Panola Partnership Director Joe Azar (right) has promoted the concept since taking the job in January.
The Panolian photo by Rupert Howell

By Rupert Howell
Around 30 leaders in industry and education as well as elected officials were on hand for Thursday’s kick-off for Panola to be a “work ready” county through ACT national Career Readiness, a program pushed by Panola Partnership’s Director Joe Azar.
Azar has cited the affiliation as a “must” in successfully recruiting industry and business to Panola. He began his talk naming counties that are already involved and those working toward being involved. Panola is ahead of  many of the state’s 82 counties, Azar told the crowd.
ACT Career Readiness is already a standard, according to some in the room who noted that Panola, by not participating, may have been passed over previously by industrialists.
The test is a national measure on potential workers and not only lets manufacturers know of the strengths of the available workforce, but also allows students and other test takers to know their strong points and offers a course for improvement.
Cary Karlson, who serves with Washington County in economic development and is  currently president of Mississippi’s Economic Development Council, is advising Azar on implementation of the program and noted that both General Electric and Planters Bank were locally using the data in relation to staffing.
“I don’t think you could have assembled a better cross-section of key players to implement Panola County’s WRC (Worker Ready Communities) and make it a success,”  Doug Freeze of NWJCC said.
“Working together we can make this WRC a reality,” Freeze added.
Local participants were asked to sign-up their businesses to participate and volunteers were sought to help promote the concept during the breakfast meeting.
More information concerning ACT and WRC can be found at workreadycommunities.org

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