Missouri’s number of Work Ready certifications exceeds U.S. average

The Missouri Work Ready Communities initiative uses the ACT National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) to identify the number of qualified workers available in a given community and what skill level they have. This gives economic developers valuable data to market their workforce quality.

The Missouri 2030 Dashboard shows that since 2015, Missouri has remained above the U.S. average for number of Work Ready certifications per 1,000 people in the workforce. This year, that U.S. average is 25.02. Missouri’s is 31.7, putting it at 20th out of all 50 states.

While 19 other states have a higher number of individual certifications per 1,000 workers than Missouri, Missouri is excelling in its number of Work Ready certified counties, according to ACT data.

On a certified-county basis, Missouri is second only to South Carolina, which has 100 percent county certification. However, South Carolina has only 46 counties. Missouri has 114, 94 of which are currently participating in the initiative. Of those, 71 counties have completed certification so far.

Having a high number of certified individuals across a state’s workforce is a strong advantage when it comes to attracting and retaining businesses. Having a high number of entire counties meeting certification goals, as Missouri does, can provide added benefit because it demonstrates to businesses that specific areas have a strong local workforce with good hiring potential.

Overall, more than 4,200 Missouri businesses are listed as supporters of Work Ready Communities.

And here is more good news: A new Missouri law signed this year will provide greater flexibility for students to take ACT WorkKeys tests in any year the state funds statewide assessments. WorkKeys, the assessment tool NCRC uses, tests potential employees for three critical skills: reading for information, applied mathematics and locating information. It can be taken as an alternative to the ACT Plus Writing test, indicating that a student is career-ready.

As an illustration of WorkKeys in action, The Boeing Co. uses it to screen applicants for its assembly mechanic pre-employment training programs with St. Louis Community College. This has led to reduced hiring time and training time, as well as improved employee retention.

Whether you measure by individual certifications or certified-status counties, Missouri is a strong performer in the Work Ready Communities effort. To learn more, visit workreadycommunities.org/MO.

Explore the Missouri 2030 Dashboard at mochamber.com/dashboard.

Has being located in a Work Ready Community helped your business? Let us know in the comments below.

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