MILLEDGEVILLE — Nearly 40 Baldwin College & Career Academy Work-Based Learning students were able to take the WorkKeys Assessment free of charge in order to pinpoint their knowledge and skills and learn how they can improve before entering the workforce through a grant from the Governor’s Office of Workforce Development (GOWD).
In partnership with Digital Bridges and the Milledgeville-Baldwin County Development Authority, the Career Academy received $7,000 in reimbursement funds to support 36 students to take the WorkKeys Assessment and purchase textbooks for dual enrollment programs in order to continue boosting the number of Work Ready Certificates earned as a Certified Work Ready Community.
“We asked for WorkKeys Assessment because the Work Ready initiative was funded through Central Georgia Technical College, but we don’t receive those funds anymore; it’s at our own expense,” said Teresa Phillip, CTAE director. “The difference of the cost of textbooks allowed us to get reimbursement for 36 students, but we had 39 students take the test; we paid for the difference out of our local money.”
Students took the assessment last week and were tested in three areas — applied mathematics, location information and reading for information.
“All of the students received Work Ready Certificates. Two students received gold certificates, 16 students received silver certificate, 12 received bronze certificate, and three either did not finish the assessment or did not meet the criteria in each section of the exam,” Phillips said. “Earning a Work Ready Certificate gives our students a competitive edge. The certificate verifies the students’ work readiness skill level to potential employers and demonstrates a commitment to success.”
Textbooks, costing around $5,700, were purchased for the nursing assistant and geographical information systems dual enrollment programs to benefit 30 students.
“All of the CNA students passed the state CNA exam with the support of the new textbooks,” Phillips said. “This grant is beneficial, especially with the economic times we’re dealing with and continual budget cuts through allocations from the state as far as in the education system. All of this was bought through the local system’s money and now those monies can go toward another critical need the system may have.”
According to the Georgia Work Ready website, the initiative was launched in August 2006 by former Gov. Sonny Perdue and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce to improve job training and the marketability of the state’s workforce to ensure companies can more effectively generate and match the right talent with the right jobs. Baldwin County committed to the Work Ready initiative in 2007 and earned the designation almost three and a half years later.
In order to earn the designation, counties must demonstrate a commitment to improving public high school graduation rates through a measurable increase, and drive citizens who have not received a high school diploma to take the GED, states the GOWD website. Currently certified counties are not required to go through a recertification process.
“To ensure a greater emphasis on putting Georgia back to work, the goals and measurable outcomes for the Certified Work Ready Communities have changed. These new goals are aligned with the governor’s desire to ensure that the emerging workforce is prepared for training for the available jobs. New community goals are improved high school graduation rate, improved high school attendance rate and improved post-secondary enrollment rate,” Phillips said. “Even though the administration of the WorkKeys Assessment is not required of Certified Work Ready Communities, we want to ensure that Baldwin County has the skilled workforce that business demands and the educational infrastructure to drive economic growth and prosperity.”
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