South Carolina is among four states where ACT is launching its Certified Work Ready Communities Academy this month. ACT is developing the pilot program in the state over the next year, with the intention of spreading it nationwide. The other states to pilot the program are Kentucky, Oregon and Missouri, according to the independent, not-for-profit company.
Details of how it will work are in the development stage.
The initiative is about better aligning the skills of unemployed workers with the job openings that exist, Haley said, adding that gap has been a source of frustration.
The initiative, which costs the state no additional money, is meant to integrate South Carolina’s various testing and training programs, while coordinating efforts statewide among state and county agencies, high schools and technical schools.
The idea is to assess high school graduates’ and workers’ skills on a county level, and then fill the gaps, with each county setting their own goals. The year-long initiative will involve ACT representatives training state leaders, who will then train local leaders.
“This is creating a business plan for workforce training,” Haley said.
Haley said South Carolina applied for the pilot after she talked with former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue about that state’s partnership with ACT, where the community training effort developed. A 2010 survey of Georgia businesses showed 86 percent of them reported the system helped them find higher-quality employees, and a majority said it saved them money and reduced employee turnover, according to a handout from Haley’s office.