By MARINA WATERS
Washington County is a step closer to becoming a work-ready community.
The Washington County Budget Committee unanimously approved a resolution to put $9,000 towards the county’s initiative of becoming an ACT Work Ready Community. The program revolves around reaching goals to improve the skill levels of a community’s workforce and certifying those who are employed and unemployed — as well as students who will enter the workforce.
The $9,000 for the program will be used for curriculum and testing for Washington County’s high school students.
“What we’re doing is encouraging David Crockett, Daniel Boone and Science Hill to focus on getting these kids through the program, getting them invested and earning a career readiness certificate,” Washington County Mayor Dan Eldridge said at the budget committee meeting. “Obviously it’s very good for them, but it’s also part of the county achieving its goal for certification.”
Northeast Tennessee’s other seven counties are also working towards the certification in order to make Tennessee a work-ready community. According to the ACT Work Ready Communities website for Washington County, 48 percent of the county’s goal has been reached since signing on with the program over a year ago.
The site also shows that Washington County has surpassed the goal for those who are certified in the current workforce, while the goals for those in the emerging workforce (students) and transitioning workforce (unemployed and underemployed) have not been met.
“In an effort to ramp up our certificate achievement for the emerging workforce, our students,” Eldridge said, “we’re asking for funding for curriculum and testing in the three high schools.”
In addition to certifying Washington County residents and students, Eldridge told the committee the program is also beneficial to the county when it comes to organizations that are looking to potentially relocate to the area.
“This is really important for the region to achieve this workforce community certification,” Eldridge said. “This is a big deal. From the standpoint of site selectors who are looking at communities and qualifying them or disqualifying them, this (the program) has actually become one of their criteria.”
The full commission will vote on the resolution at the county commission’s meeting on Monday, Jan. 22 at 6 p.m. at the George Jaynes Justice Center, 108 W Jackson Blvd., Jonesborough.