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Taylor County earns Work Ready certification

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By Zac Oakes

 

It has been years in the making, but the announcement was made public last week that Taylor County was named a “Kentucky Work Ready Community.”

A news release from Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet Secretary Hal Heiner announced that Taylor and Barren counties have been certified as Kentucky Work Ready Communities.

“Moving from a Work Ready In Progress Community to a Work Ready Community is a great achievement for Taylor County,” Team Taylor County Executive Director Ron McMahan said.

McMahan said it was a team effort from various organizations and individuals in the community working together toward a common goal to make this achievement possible.

“Our community stakeholders worked hard to make this happen,” McMahan said. “They include Campbellsville and Taylor County Schools, Taylor County Adult Learning Center, elected officials, Campbellsville University, area employers, and the Green County Area Technology Center.”

Although the county has received the designation, McMahan said this is not the end, and they must continue to show improvements in various areas.

We can’t just sit by and rest though,” McMahan said. “To remain a Work Ready Community, we have to show continuous improvements to remain a certified community.  We have to implement plans to reach the state averages, and then the national averages.”

The process started more than four years ago in Taylor County. Before becoming a Kentucky Work Ready Community, a county must meet criteria to be labeled as a Kentucky Work Ready Community in Progress.

Taylor County received word from state officials in August 2013 that they had met requirements to be a Kentucky Work Ready Community in Progress. There are six requirements that a county must obtain to be labeled a Kentucky Work Ready Community, and at that time, Taylor County had reached five of them, which was good enough to take the next step.

The six criteria include high school graduation rate, National Career Readiness Certificate holder rate, community commitment, educational attainment, soft-skills development, and digital literacy.

In 2013, Taylor County had reached all of those except the educational attainment category, which looks at the number of associate and bachelors degrees residents in a particular county possess.

In order to progress to the next step of becoming a Kentucky Work Ready Community, Taylor County officials had to have a plan to meet all the criteria within three years.

The Work Ready Community designation is expected to have a positive impact on the community in marketing itself to potential businesses and business owners, providing business owners with assurance that the county has a quality workforce.

Of 120 counties in Kentucky, 85 are certified as Work Ready Communities or Work Ready Communities in Progress.

As of August 2017, the only other county that borders Taylor County that is a Kentucky Work Ready Community is Adair County. The other counties bordering Taylor are Work Ready Communities in Progress.

Kentucky is the third state to begin certifying counties as Work Ready Communities based on the quality of their labor force.

“Everything we aspire to economically is contingent on our communities having a skilled workforce that is ready and able to fulfill the needs of employers. Earning the Kentucky Work Ready Communities certification gives counties a competitive edge when businesses are looking for a new location or want to expand in Kentucky. I encourage all communities in the Commonwealth to pursue the Work Ready designation,” Heiner said in the release.

For more information about the Kentucky Work Ready Communities program, visit workready.ky.gov.