BOONE COUNTY, Mo. - Three-and-a-half years ago, Boone County leaders started working toward a new initiative and as of Wednesday, it has officially achieved Certified Work Ready status.
According to the Missouri Department of Economic Development (DED), the designation means that the county has a system in place to provide employers/businesses irrefutable data demonstrating they have a process in place to deliver a quality workforce with the skills needed by companies.
Boone County Commissioner Karen Miller was one of the leaders at the helm of the three-year project. She said this is a certification that can be physically shown to potential businesses.
"We knew we had the quality workforce," she said. "This just helps certify this and makes it easier for those business to understand what is available when it comes to our workforce."
The certification stems from a test Boone County workers took over the past three years. Mike Downing, director of the DED said its similar to an ACT test for high school students.
"It demonstrates skills such as reading comprehension and mathematics," he said. "It shows that you have a certain level of knowledge in certain areas and that can be correlated to job skills which employers use to determine if someone is applicable to a certain job."
A committee was required by the state in order to qualify. Miller satisfied the county commissioner seat required, but Chamber of Commerce, education and economic development leaders were also on the list.
High school juniors and seniors, unemployed and employed workers all took the test. In Boone County, 881 people were required to take the test and 111 businesses needed to be on board to endorse the test in their hiring process. In total 1,229 people actually took the test and 112 businesses agreed.
Miller said the certification proves the county's skilled and dedicated workforce available and could encourage more businesses to bring services and jobs to Boone County.
"I can tell you every time a business comes to town, they want to know what the workforce is like," she said. "We knew we had a quality workforce, this just helps certify this and makes it easier for those businesses to understand what is available when it comes to our workforce."
The certification can also help people without degrees get jobs based on the results of their test.
"We've heard many companies have said it has improved their hiring process by demonstrating the skills and knowledge of applicants where they may not have degrees or certificates to prove their abilities," said Downing.