Debra Lyons serves as the Governor’s Office of Workforce Development (GOWD) Director and the State Workforce Investment Board Executive Director. The former educator developed and helped implement the Georgia Work Ready program to help measure and close the skills gap. “We have a fully integrated program with computer skills training and we have made it meaningful, valuable and easy to access.”
Since its inception four years ago, the Georgia Work Ready Program has continually offered assessment testing to employed and unemployed members of the state’s workforce. According to the program’s May 2010 scorecard, as the unemployment rate increases, more and more job seekers are broadening their search and their advancement opportunities.
The Georgia Work Ready program offers free computer based assessments throughout the state and upon completion each job seeker may qualify for a bronze, silver, gold or platinum Work Ready Certificate, based on his/her overall scores. Unemployed applicants qualify for up to $300 in incentives to participate in the helpful assessments and attempt to improve their scores. According to Lyons, “One out of four unemployed work ready applicants [finds] a job within less than two months.”
Georgia Work Ready’s Job Seeker of the Month in June, Robert Westfall, declared, “I am very glad that I took the assessments. Work Ready proved to me that I am a qualified worker at a good level. It is also providing me with the opportunity to improve my scores by taking skills gap training in order to improve my certification level and become even more valuable in the marketplace.”
Westfall’s decision to register for the Georgia Work Ready assessment placed him in an expansive group. In fact, as of May 2010, more than 1.2 million people earned at least a bronze Work Ready Certificate. Those certificates are indicative of specific skills that are pertinent in the job market. The categories and the persistence to achieve them speak volumes to employers. From bronze to platinum, the certificates readily assess the job seeker’s knowledge and skills training according to the scoring scale.
The certificates are important additions to job seekers’ “toolboxes”. Lyons advises job seekers need to have a self-evaluation and decide if “they are prepared to walk in the door with all of the skills needed for their desired job. They need to build a toolbox, have a great resume, and go to career and one-stop centers and classes. Life-long learning is the key to success.”