Certification through the National Career Readiness program can take up to two years once an application has been made, but the community leaders have already been busy getting employers signed up and workers certified as Work Ready.

The Lake of the Ozarks is ready to prove it is “Work Ready.”

Local business leaders from chambers of commerce and Lake of the Ozarks Regional Economic Development Council have filed a regional application for the tri-county to become certified as a Work Ready community.

Certification through the National Career Readiness program can take up to two years once an application has been made, but the community leaders have already been busy getting employers signed up and workers certified as Work Ready.

This program is a practical career-skills certification program connected to the WorkKeys test administered by ACT.

A three-category exam overall, the test covers Applied Math, Reading for Information and Locating Information. Each category includes questions at different skill levels.

The test shows what level workers and potential workers score in these categories so employers could factor that in to hiring and internal promotion decisions as well as training.

While students are one part of the equation, this program is also aimed at adults who may be unemployed, underemployed or just looking to switch careers. The Missouri Career Center in Linn Creek administers the test in the Lake region.

But the program also benefits employers, and indeed business/employer support is key to making the whole system work. They must recognize the certification program in their employees.

The test is free to both potential employees and employers and can help identify strengths and weaknesses of both potential and current employees. Even just the fact that an applicant is willing to take the test can say something about them - the test takes a few hours to complete.

Participation for the business is free, but for a fee, they can also have staff at the career center profile a position or positions within their organization to match the jobs to certain skill levels tested by Work Keys.

There is also a big-picture component to the Work Ready program.

Community certification - meeting those population goals - is used by major commercial and manufacturing site selectors looking for a place that offers a community with skills to match their demands.

While tax abatements used to be one of the number one things these types of businesses looked for when selecting a site, work force capability is now taking over that top slot, according to local business leaders. Businesses are looking for a community or region with potential employees who are capable in technical aspects as well as soft skills.

For more information on signing up and participating in the Work Ready program, businesses may contact either the Missouri Career Center at 573-346-1766 or call your local Chamber of Commerce. K.C. Cloke can be reached for more information at 573-964-1008.