County close to work-ready certification

Published 5:52 pm Monday, June 27, 2016

Beaufort County is well on its way to becoming a designated work-ready community.

The last step for the county in becoming an ACT Certified Work Ready Community comes down to enlisting the help of 11 more businesses and having them sign on to the work-ready initiative, according to Lou Stout, director of Work Initiatives at the college.

Before its designation, the county is required to have a total of 61 businesses signed on to support the cause.

In early 2015, a group of community leaders elected to begin the process of becoming ACT-certified, and Beaufort County Community College was chosen to spearhead the initiative.

The ACT program looks at a variety of factors, including high school education and graduation rates within an area. The goal is to show prospective employers, either based in Beaufort County or looking to move to the area, that the county’s residents are trained and qualified for jobs, according to Stout.

“When they (job seekers) go into an interview, or to speak to a perspective employer, it’s a way for them to tell the employer that they have an employable skill set,” she said. “You’re skilling them up.”

One of the ways BCCC helps a student become ready for the workforce is by letting him or her work toward a career-ready certificate. This certificate shows a potential employee has received proper training and is prepared for employment, according to Stout.

The ACT website divides the workforce into three categories: emerging, current and transitioning. Beaufort County has 1,570 people in the workforce who have earned a CRC as of May 31, and the highest CRC numbers come from the emerging category, which means a person is about to enter the workforce.

ACT also reports that Beaufort County has met 98 percent of its goals set in 2015.

Stout said the initiative’s success is due to all of the partners who came together to make it happen, including strong support from Dr. Don Phipps, Beaufort County Schools superintendent, businesses and grant money from the Committee of 100, which will help students facing income barriers to cover the cost of obtaining a CRC.

She said becoming a Work Ready Community has benefits across the whole county, but also for residents who are looking to better themselves.

“It helps with their self-esteem and their self-confidence goes up,” Stout said. “It’s a way for us to evaluate them. They can evaluate themselves.”

“It’s really a win-win.”

For more information or to become a supporting business, visit