Cook County is now one of them, after nearly 300 residents earned their Work Ready Certifications, and the county's high school graduation rate increased by 4%.
Work Ready certificates benefit both the employee and the employer.
"By matching that with the skills required for a particular job, there is reduced training time, there's reduced turn-over, there's increased productivity, and generally a greater morale in the work place," says Penelope Schmidt, Director of Career Services at Valdosta Technical College.
Valdosta Tech offers the Work Ready Assessments to analyze a person's work place skills.
BASF, a plant that formulates and packages chemicals for agriculture, is a major employer in Cook County. They say the Work Ready designation is inspiring more people to get certified, and bringing them more qualified applicants.
Kyle Clark, BASF's Superintendent of Employee Training and Development, says, "We felt it's another benefit, in fact, for the employees to know where they stand and offer them an opportunity to improve those skills."
Work Ready Certified employees take less time to train.
"In this market, with a lot of competition for jobs, it's better to have it," says Clark. "We'll look at the Work Ready Certificate and hire somebody that has that--where we already know where they stand."
Ultimately, Cook County hopes its neighboring counties will earn their own designations, helping to create a larger Work Ready Region that will produce an even greater number of skilled workers.
Berrien and Brooks Counties appear to be next in line to earn the Work Ready designation. Lowndes County isn't far behind, having already achieved 77% of their Work Ready goal.
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