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A Workforce to be Reckoned With

Horry County is serious about providing a workforce that’s prepped and ready for the job at hand. For the past five years, we’ve exceeded goals of linking a robust workforce development initiative with education, economic development and job placement. And Horry County now has the certification to prove it.

As of April, Horry County officially received certification through the South Carolina Work Ready Communities (SCWRC) initiative. We join 41 other counties in the state that have met the workforce and education goals required by SCWRC. South Carolina, in fact, leads the entire nation in the most certified work ready communities. Only four counties to go to being the first state in the nation to be fully certified!

So what does being qualified as a Work Ready community actually mean? For Horry County, it all began in December 2011, when South Carolina was selected as one of four pilot states by the ACT Work Ready Communities to participate in the Certified Work Ready Community Program. 

It’s a demanding process, according to WIOA business manager Rusty Gaskins, consisting of many facets working together, which, for Horry County includes Horry County Schools, Horry Georgetown Technical College, SC Department of Employment and Workforce, and Waccamaw Regional Council of Governments.

To become Work Ready, each county then needs to provide WorkKeys assessment testing for three workforce populations:

*emerging, or high school juniors and seniors, college students and recent graduates;

*transitioning, which means currently unemployed or currently participating in adult education or a GED program;

*and current, consisting of the workforce currently employed in the private or public sector.

Horry County exceeded the goals set for graduation rate averages, improvement percentage, and the goals set for each workforce’s scores on the WorkKeys that tests for real world skills in the areas of math, reading for information and locating information.

Horry County was also responsible for overall business support, which included identifying 191 local employers who were willing to recognize WorkKeys as a tool for workforce development. Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development is proud to have led in this support. Horry County boasts 257 employers actively involved in this initiative.

“I think being an ACT Work Ready County and State will show prospective companies that we are serious about developing a pipeline of well qualified employees and are committed to showing other states that we have a viable workforce that is educated, well trained, and ready to work,” says Gaskins.

WorkKeys testing, he says, proves it by tracking exact numbers with potential employees’ particular skills.

“The great thing about WorkKeys,” says Gaskins, “is that it can level the playing field for people who may not have a college degree, but who may have the exact skills needed to work. It also measures a wide variety of skills. For instance, Bronze level may be a very basic skill set requiring little math or reading skills, while a Platinum level will indicate a very knowledgeable person with superior skill sets.”

Overall, the county’s latest Work Ready achievement only strengthens our workforce development by creating a credible inventory of area workforce assets and targeted skills that our community can showcase to new businesses and investment groups moving into our area. It’s just one more enticing attraction for Horry County.

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