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‘Work Ready’

JACKSON – Northampton County can now join the ranks of surrounding counties to call themselves a certified “Work Ready Community.” The county received certification in April after a stringent application process which began in February 2016.

The purpose for becoming a Work Ready Community is to provide the framework for a county to increase their workforce’s skill level to improve economic needs.

“It was a joint effort,” said Duna Dickinson of the Roanoke Valley Chamber of Commerce as she recognized everyone involved.

Getting the certification was a collaboration between several different parts of the local community, including the Northampton County Chamber of Commerce, Roanoke Valley Chamber, NCWorks, Halifax Community College, Roanoke Chowan Community College, Northampton’s Economic Development office, Northampton County Schools, and local businesses like Enviva.

Ed Troha, Vice President of the NC Chamber Foundation, presented the certificate at a celebratory event on May 8 hosted at Longview Retreat located outside of Jackson.

Troha began his presentation by quoting basketball coach Bobby Knight: “The key is not the will to win… it is the will to prepare to win that is important.”

He said that Northampton County demonstrated their commitment to doing everything necessary to become a Work Ready Community.

The focus of the initiative is on developing skills. An important part of the program is for the emerging workforce to earn a National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC). According to the Work Ready Community website, Northampton County has met and surpassed all their current goals for NCRC.

The total goal for people passing NCRC was 334. Their actual total as of April was 671 passed.

A total of 23 employers—including local ones such as West Fraser, Enviva, CADA, and Perdue Foods—have signed on to support the program, surpassing the county’s goal of 19.

Monica Smith-Woofter, Superintendent of Northampton County Schools, and Dr. Michael Elam, President of Halifax Community College, both spoke about how their schools are committed to preparing local students for the workforce and bridging the skills gap.

“We need to skill up to be successful moving forward,” said Gary Brown, Executive Director of Northampton County’s Economic Development, as he said thanks to all the people involved in the certification process.

“We have a workforce that will be certified and ready,” said Roanoke Valley Chamber President Jim Trzinski.

With educators working to close the skills gap, individuals learning what skills they need, and businesses advocating for necessary foundational skills, the NCWorks Certified Work Ready Community will have a positive impact on Northampton County.