|SHERIDAN, Ark. – A group of Grant County leaders announced Friday that the county has met all criteria to become a certified ACT Work Ready Community, demonstrating its commitment to developing a strong workforce pipeline, desirable to employers, economic developers and current and future citizens of the county.
The ACT® Work Ready Communities (ACT® WRC) initiative empowers states, regions and counties with data, processes and tools that drive economic growth by identifying skills gaps and quantifying the skill level of their workforce. Participants leverage the ACT® WorkKeys® National Career Readiness Certificate® (ACT® WorkKeys® NCRC®) to measure and close skills gaps and build common frameworks that link, align and match their workforce development efforts.
To begin the certification process, Grant County leaders attended the ACT Work Ready Communities Boot Camp, an executive leadership and training program designed and led by ACT to initiate, deploy, and drive carefully tailored efforts to improve the county’s work readiness. Leaders met with local employers, policymakers, educators and economic developers to establish goals and build a sustainable WRC model to fit community needs.
“This is exciting news for our county and for the future of economic development in this area,” said Grant County Judge Randy Pruitt. “We know that one of the key reasons an employer may choose to locate or expand their business is the availability of a quality, skilled workforce. Achieving ACT Work Ready Community status is a clear indicator to employers that we’ve got a ready and willing workforce to meet their needs.”
“Congratulations to Grant County for becoming an ACT Work Ready Community and joining a growing list of counties dedicated to building a robust workforce,” said ACTBra Regional Manager of Workforce Initiatives, Tony Garife. “The efforts of the county leadership to achieve WRC certification will provide the community with a tremendous economic development advantage and help it stand out for its workforce development efforts.”
Attaining ACT Work Ready Community status was a goal of Kick Start Sheridan, a group formed in 2018 to conduct community assessments, engagement, and strategic planning.
“This achievement required a collaborative effort of a number of groups and individuals,” said Brad McGinley, chairman of Kick Start Sheridan. “It’s a great promotional tool for our community and clearly demonstrates that Sheridan and Grant County are ready to compete for more, better-paying jobs.”
“We know that economic development and education are closely associated. That’s why the Sheridan School District is proud to have played a role in helping Grant County achieve status as an ACT Work Ready Community,” said Dr. Karla Neathery, superintendent of the Sheridan School District. “The skills our students are learning in Work Ready and JAG classes, as well as internships and other courses, help prepare them to be outstanding contributors to a workforce. When these students demonstrate those skills on the NCRC assessments, they receive credentials to indicate their work-readiness to potential employers. We believe designation as an ACT Work Ready Community aligns perfectly with our school’s mission to empower our students to become lifelong learners who are responsible, contributing citizens.”