Wednesday, 15 May 2019 07:45

Work Ready Oswego NY Initiative Making A Mark

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A groundbreaking new initiative in Oswego County has the potential to mark the community as the first in the Northeast to earn a skilled-workforce designation that could lure new businesses and jobs to the area.

Led by Cayuga Community College’s Executive Dean of Community Education and Workforce Development Carla DeShaw, the ACT Work Ready Communities initiative is designed to close the skills gap, producing a talented workforce to meet the demands of current and future jobs. The key to this initiative is the ACT National Career Readiness Certificate, a portable credential that certifies essential skills required for workplace success.

The initiative, which is partially funded by the Richard S. Shineman Foundation and Operation Oswego County, has already attracted strong support from community and business leaders.

“This is a highly-researched, comprehensive effort that aligns the skills of our local workforce with those in demand by employers. The ACT WorkKeys System, which includes an online curriculum, helps participants identify potential careers, improve their work readiness skills and earn a nationally-recognized citation. At the same time, it helps employers determine what skills their employees need, and which employees have those capabilities,” said DeShaw. “We’re very excited to start this initiative, and for the systemic impact it can have in Oswego County.”

The Work Ready Oswego NY initiative appeals to all parties across the workforce, business and industrial communities. Employees and those seeking employment can earn a national credential announcing them as a skilled member of the workforce, while employers can realize what skills they need in the workforce, and have confidence that participants of the initiative will have those skills.

The initiative focuses on developing and enhancing the workplace documents, applied math and graphic literacy skills of members of the workforce. Participants of the initiative who successfully complete the required assessments earn the ACT WorkKeys National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC), a nationally-recognized citation of the individual’s skills in those three core areas.

Leaders hope the plan will help close the skills gap in the local workforce, including those who are unemployed, are already employed and the future workforce who are currently enrolled in high school, college or other postsecondary education programs.

While the primary goal is to enhance the skills of the local workforce, there is a long-range goal to the Work Ready initiative as well. Having an entire county marked as a skilled workforce nationally could draw the interest of new businesses, thereby creating more jobs in Oswego County.

“As someone who tries to promote businesses coming to Oswego County, our goals are first to help the businesses who are here so they can grow. But if this is successful it makes us attractive to future and potential employers, and we can help prepare the workforce to meet their needs,” said Legislator Roy Reehil, who chairs the county’s Human Services Committee.

The initiative officially launched in February with a highly-detailed boot camp for more than 20 strategic partners hailing from local government, schools, community agencies and businesses across Oswego County. The first two days outlined the ACT Work Ready Communities initiative, plus reviewed goals for the initiative and created a plan to achieve those goals.

That session was also a major component in the launch of several Work Ready satellite offices throughout Oswego County. The second session in April focused on strategies to help Oswego County become the first ACT Work Ready Community in the Northeast.

Legislator Reehil called the trainings “impressive,” adding that the initiative will be “tremendous” for local employers because it helps them and the local career training agencies discover the skills individuals need in the workforce.

“It gets businesses and employers involved in communicating with the county, the College and other agencies about the skills they need in their workforce, and how we can help provide that by tailoring the training to their needs,” he said.

For Oswego County to earn the ACT Work Ready Communities designation, it requires a minimum of 512 individuals obtaining the NCRC in the categories of current workforce, emerging workforce and transitioning workforce with at least 53 businesses endorsing the effort. These goals are determined by ACT, working with the College, and are based on countywide labor force data.

The next step is to continue communicating the initiative’s message and potential to area employers across the greater Oswego County community, said DeShaw.

“We’ll be reaching out to all employers, communicating the details and goals of the project and how it will benefit their workforce needs, and answering their questions,” said DeShaw. “Our goal is for every employer in Oswego County to have a Work Ready Oswego NY emblem on their window, and give hiring preference to participants whose skills are validated by this highly researched national credential.”

For more information regarding Work Ready Oswego NY and services offered through Cayuga’s ACT WorkKeys Center, please call (315) 593-9400 or email Paula Hayes at [email protected]

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