North Carolina’s Eastern Region is leading a Work Ready initiative to elevate our region’s workforce into our number one competitive advantage. By ensuring our workers have the best skills and training, we can guarantee businesses we have the talent they need to succeed now and in the future.

This ambitious plan, funded by a grant from the NC Rural Center, and in partnership with the Eastern Carolina Workforce Development Board, Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED), and the North Carolina Community College System, will improve the skills and marketability of our workforce and ultimately bring growth to our communities. This plan is based on a multi-level certification program that has already proven successful in other states. This project will assess and award communities that meet Work Ready thresholds, evaluate the standards proposed for certification, motivate rural county participation, introduce the Work Ready Initiative to employers and capture the lessons learned at the regional level for potential application across the state.

How a Community is Certified

In order to be certified as a Work Ready, a community must meet each of the following four criteria:

1) A letter of commitment to workforce excellence from 3 county leaders
2) An increase in the high school graduation rate of 1%, with a minimum qualifying rate of 70% and annual progress toward the goal of 80%.
3) 2% increase in the number of Career Readiness Certificates issued to the total labor force with a minimum rate of 5% and annual progress toward a goal of 25%.
4) 10 of the top 20 largest employers committed to excellence in workforce by written notification that they prefer or require the Career Readiness Certificate for recruitment and hiring.

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