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Grants aid job seekers
Certificate, training funds are awarded

Friday, July 5, 2013

DANVILLE — The Dan River Region Collaborative (DRRC) recently was awarded two grants totaling $224,700 primarily to help unemployed residents find work sooner than later.

The first grant award is for $142,200 from the Virginia Tobacco Commission to subsidize 2,400 testing fees associated with the National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC), which measures a person’s skills in applied math, reading comprehension and the location of information.

The second grant is for $82,500 from the National Fund of Workforce Solutions and the U. S. Department of Labor’s Social Innovation Fund (SIF) to subsidize half of employers’ on-the-job-training costs for new employees.

“For the last nine months, we have been meeting with employers in our growing industry sectors of advanced manufacturing, health care, energy and informational technology who have said they need a way to validate foundational skills in reading and applied mathematics,” said Julie Brown, DRRC’s project manager, in a news release.

“In response to these needs, in partnership with our regional community colleges, we have brought to the region the (career readiness certificate), which we view will not only get transitional and emerging workers employed faster but also will position Southern Virginia as the first region in the country to earn the designation as a Certified Work Ready Community, which will help our economic developers quantify to prospects our talented workforce,” she said.

The Certified Work Ready Community initiative was formally launched June 21. It will create a regional workforce where competencies are defined by skill, not just educational attainment, the release stated.

To date, 37 employers have signed on in support of the credential and are having employees take the NCRC assessment, providing feedback as to how it will be valued in their hiring and promotion practices.

Brown said grants such as the training subsidies have been good investments. Before the Social Innovation Fund grant, DRRC was awarded $53,100 from the Boeing Foundation to support 18 new employees at three manufacturers in the region — four at RTI in Martinsville, seven at Amthor in Gretna and seven at Intertape Polymer Group in Danville.

“To date, 17 of 18 new OJT (on-the-job training) placements were still employed at wages averaging $15.50 per hour,” she said.

Anyone interested in the career readiness certificate program should contact Brown at (434) 836-5674 or contact the appropriate person at either Danville, Patrick Henry or Southside Virginia community colleges.

Employers interested in learning more about the subsided training also should contact Brown.

DRRC is a consortium of regional private foundations, chambers of commerce, economic developers and workforce investment boards seeking to cultivate long-term, sustainable workforce partnerships to spark economic growth in the Southern Virginia region of Danville and Martinsville and the counties of Halifax, Henry, Patrick and Pittsylvania.

For more information about the collaborative, visit


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