On behalf of their constituents, Waycross Mayor Clarence Billups and Ware County Commission Chairman Jimmy Brown accepted Certified Work Ready Community road signs from Okefenokee Technical College (OTC) officials yesterday at the Ware County Commission Board Room. Ware County earned the distinction of being a Certified Work Ready Community of Excellence in September 2009 when its citizens obtained 1.147 Work Ready Certificates (102 percent above the goal) and increased the public high school graduation rate from 62.6 to 76.6 percent.
Counties that are fully certified receive road signs and a seal denoting the year they achieved certification. To earn the Certified Work Ready Community designation, counties must demonstrate a commitment to improving public high school graduation rates through a measurable increase, and show a specified percentage of the available and current workforce have obtained Work Ready Certificates.
The Georgia Work Ready initiative was launched in August 2006 by Governor Sonny Perdue and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce to improve the job training and marketability of Georgia’s workforce and drive future economic growth for the state. Ware County was the 3rd community in the State to complete the Work Ready certification process.
Work Ready was created to ensure that Georgia’s workers have the best skills, easy access to training and world-class job opportunities. The backbone of the initiative is the worker certification program that assesses the real world skills of Georgia’s workers and provides valuable job training. That, combined with an innovative job profiling process that accurately identifies what kind of worker a company needs, is helping Georgia workers find great jobs and realize a better quality of life.
Altogether, seventy-four Georgia counties were involved in the Work Ready project. Ware County was one of eleven counties chosen to receive the “Road to Readiness” award which recognizes those counties that have exceeded goals and standards of expectation set by the board.
Linda Zechmann, a strong educational community leader and First Congressional District Representative on the Georgia State Board of Education, took on the task of Work Ready Ware Team Leader. The Economic Development Division of Okefenokee Technical College worked collaboratively with the Work Ready Team and the Waycross-Ware County Chamber of Commerce to bring ongoing Work Ready success to Ware County. OTC provided a computer lab for Work Ready assessments, trained profilers, and proctors.
Ware County Schools also mobilized efforts to provide high school seniors with Work Ready assessments. Proctors provided by OTC monitored all the testing.
Zechmann is quick to say that the success of the project was a team effort of committed economic development, government and education partners. In addition to community volunteers, Zechmann was assisted by Ware County’s Work Ready Team, which consisted of Pam Hart, Gina Egenlauf, Shannon Stewart, and Frankie Royer.
For more information on Work Ready, go to www.gaworkready.org or contact Okefenokee Technical College.
Waycross Mayor Clarence Billups and Ware County Commission Chairman Jimmy Brown look over a Certified Work Ready Community road sign with Okefenokee Technical College officials: Dr. Glenn Deibert (left), interim president; Jason Rubenbauer (2nd from right), continuing education director; and Andy Brannen (right), VP for Economic Development.