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Halifax Community College's Continuing Education Department hosted a Career Readiness Certification Kickoff, Sept. 24 in The Centre. Pictured are, from left, Marshall Cherry, Continuing Education & Community Services Dean Vera Palmer, Pamela Gobel, Vice President of Instructional Services Dr. Joy Cooley, Ellen Grant, Willa Dickens and Dr. Ervin V. Griffin, Sr.

Halifax Community College's (HCC) Continuing Education Department hosted a Career Readiness Certification (CRC) Kickoff, Sept. 24 in The Centre. Pamela Gobel, director of the CRC for the North Carolina Community College System, was the guest speaker.

The CRC program is an assessment-based credential that gives employers and career seekers a uniform measure of key workplace skills. With more than 80 percent of all jobs projected to require skills beyond those earned in high school by 2010, the program is designed to meet the needs of both employers and job seekers in a transitioning economy. The certificate is portable, is recognized nationwide and complements other credentials, giving job seekers an advantage in the interview process.

According to Gobel, through WorkKeys, a job skills assessment system, and the CRC, a stronger workforce can be developed by bridging the skills gap and providing economic development tools that show the strength of the workforce. Currently, 41 of the state's 58 community colleges are CRC sites, with HCC being one of them. In January, five more will become official sites. “This program cuts across all populations and all occupations,” said Gobel.

Basic skills assessment occurs in the areas of reading, math and locating information. Additional assessments are available. In just these three areas, a person can prove that he or she has skills for about 90% of jobs. The assessment provides three levels of certification: gold, silver and bronze.

Potential employers can visit the CRC Web site and search a database to find employee matches. “The CRC builds partnerships between economic development, employment and education,” Gobel said.

Vice President of Economic and Workforce Development Willa Dickens said that the whole system was about jobs. “CRC is a fantastic tool,” said Dickens, who added that it is the number one tool for workforce development. Highlighting employment areas in nuclear energy, nanotechnology, advanced manufacturing, aerospace, logistics, healthcare and biotechnology, Dickens emphasized that the workforce needs to prepare for jobs in a variety of industries.

Vice President of Member Services and Marketing with Roanoke Electric Cooperative Marshall Cherry praised the CRC program and discussed an existing partnership between HCC and the Achieving Career Excellence (ACE) project. ACE seeks to create a workforce that is prepared and develops networks for women, employers and partners.

“We have had such a great partnership with the business and industry partners in the Roanoke Valley and the implementation of the CRC certificate will provide another opportunity for continuous improvement of the workforce development and training programs available to both potential employees and employers,” said HCC President, Dr. Ervin V. Griffin, Sr. “I applaud the staff for their innovative and forward thinking approach to work to providing the latest programs and services in the area of workforce and economic development.”

Cost for the CRC class is based on eligibility requirements. Due to grant funding, the reading, math and locating information tests, which would normally cost $30, are free. Additional tests cost a nominal fee. Tests and classes are available online or onsite.

For more information about CRC, visit www.crcnc.org, or call CRC Coordinator Ellen Grant at (252) 536-6393 or e-mail grante@halifaxcc.edu.