Beaufort County achieves NCWorks certification

Published 7:53 pm Monday, April 3, 2017

After two years in the making, Beaufort County is officially an NCWorks Certified Work Ready Community.

The North Carolina Chamber Foundation notified Beaufort County Community College of the designation last week.

“This initiative provides a framework to empower counties with the data, processes and tools that drive economic growth. The framework aligns education, workforce development and industry while matching individuals’ skills to job requirements,” a press release stated.

Lou Stout, director of workforce initiatives at BCCC, said achieving the designation was made possible through partnerships with Beaufort County Schools, the Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce, local businesses, the NCWorks Career Center and the Committee of 100, among others.

“It’s a great thing for the county. We’re able to now say that Beaufort County is a Work Ready Community, and so we’re just excited that it’s happened,” Stout said.

To be eligible, the county had to meet certain criteria: a letter of commitment from county leaders; a high school graduation rate progressing toward 94 percent; a certain number of residents with National Career Readiness Certificates; and supporting employers to recognize the CRCs, according to the press release.

Stout said Beaufort County managed to exceed its criteria goals. It has more than 1,800 residents who earned CRCs, and 62 businesses signed on to support the program. The goals were 1,000 and 61, respectively.

“It’ll help Martyn (Johnson) with economic development, of course, because now he’ll be able to promote Beaufort County as a Work Ready Community,” Stout said. “It also benefits the job seekers. … They’ll be able to show these employers that they have the certification.”

The next order of business is to maintain the county’s eligibility criteria, which the Work Ready program will continue to monitor and likely set new standards, according to Stout.

The community college and its county- and state-level partners plan to host a celebration later this spring.

“It’s a team effort for the county,” Stout said. “It’s just a big thing for us, and we’re excited.”