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Joplin first in nation Certified Work Ready Community

The area around Joplin is not only recovering from the massive 2011 tornado, it’s becoming a leader in workforce development.

Associated Industries of Missouri president Ray McCarty recently joined Governor Jay Nixon and other economic development officials from around the state in honoring Jasper


Governor Jay Nixon presents the ACT Certified Work Ready Community certificate to Jasen Jones, executive director of the Workforce Investment Board of Southwest Missouri during ceremonies in Joplin March 8.


County as the nation’s first ACT Certified Work Ready Community.

The designation comes from the standardized testing company ACT. Since 2006, prospective job seekers in the Joplin area have taken a three hour test over areas of knowledge such as applied mathematics, locating information and reading for information. So far, more than 3,000 Jasper County residents have achieved the ACT National Career Readiness Certificate. 87 employers have declared their support for the program as an element in their hiring practices.

“The certificate actually does two things for employers. One it shows that that an employee cares enough to sit for a three hour test,” said McCarty. “And second, it assesses their skills.”

McCarty and Associated Industries have been instrumental in developing ties between the business community and the prospective employees. Missouri is one four states implementing the program. Jasper County is the first community to attain Certified Work Ready status.

“Our bottom line has definitely been improved by using the NCRC,” said Susan Adams, Human Resources Director for Able Manufacturing of Joplin. “Our hiring practices are more efficient because we get the right person the first time.”

13 additional counties in Missouri are implementing the program in their communities. McCarty says National Career Readiness training will be an important tool as Missouri attracts new industry to the state in the years to come.

“When businesses are looking at coming into an area, one of the first questions they ask is ‘Where is your educated workforce?’” said McCarty. “This is a way for the community to prove they have numbers of people that have been tested on basic skills, and that’s going to be very attractive to prospective employers.”

In remarks at the ceremony marking the county’s designation, Governor Nixon called to mind the tragic times the area has endured in recent years.

“For Jasper County, home to the Joplin metro area, to become the very first ACT Certified Work Ready Community in the nation is another testament to this community’s resilience and its commitment to rebuilding its economy stronger, and smarter, than ever before.”

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