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How Work Ready Communities are Winning the Growth Game

Work Ready Communities (WRC) from ACT is a framework for community-based workforce development. The primary reason 555 communities have decided to participate is to drive economic growth. When your community becomes a Certified Work Ready Community, you can prove the economic viability of your area to employers, location consultants, investors, and other decision-makers because:

5,837,842 people

have earned WorkKeys® National Career Readiness Certificates.

28,566 Employers

around the US have shown their support for the program.

Site Selection Magazine

uses NCRC data each year to rank state competitiveness.


jobs profiled for skill alignment

To show your community’s interest in participating in the ACT® Work Ready Communities initiative, complete this brief form.

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Counties use WRC in attracting business

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Use WRC to help retain and expand local industry

Other Benefits to Your Community

  • Identify skills gaps and quantify the skill level of your workforce.
  • Build career pathways aligned to the needs of existing local businesses and new businesses you want to attract.
  • Boost job candidate pipeline with solutions for targeted populations such as ex-offenders, immigrants, welfare recipients, etc.Improve community morale by promoting WRC certification in site/building listings, community profiles, social media, and other marketing materials.
  • Stand out and be recognized for your workforce development efforts.
  • Disaster recovery, revitalization, and economic resilience.
image of work ready banner that says your community here certified sep 2020

Which Communities May Participate?

Any community in the United States or that is a U.S. territory may participate as long as it has a FIPS code. This includes 3,243 counties and county equivalents, such as parishes, boroughs and census areas. Currently there are 551 communities, including Guam, participating in ACT Work Ready Communities.

How Communities Become Certified

To be certified as “Work Ready,” a community must follow these steps:

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Show Your Interest

Contact ACT and a staff member will walk you through the process. The form just takes one minute.

Start Now
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Apply Online

Provide ACT with details of your team’s intent to participate in the program and drive economic growth for your community.

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Build Your Team

Your leadership team should include local government, economic development, workforce development, community/technical college, K-12 system, and business/industry.

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Attend WRC Boot Camp

Join us for a workshop that will help your team initiate, deploy and drive a community effort to get certified.

Learn More About WRC Bootcamp
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Achieve Your Goals

Your community will set goals based on the ACT WRC common criteria. These criteria involve individuals earning WorkKeys NCRCs, and employers support.

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Congratulations, your community is among the elite regions in the country who have quantifiable evidence of their strong workforce and a common desire to drive business growth. See how other communities have celebrated their achievements.

Economic Development Solutions

Economic Development leaders across the nation open many new doors of impact linked to their Work Ready Community efforts.

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What Others Are Saying

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, workforce readiness was the signature challenge facing economic developers across the U.S.  If anything, the fast but uneven post-pandemic recovery will bring even greater challenges on the talent availability front.  This new reality illustrates the value of the ACT Work-Ready Communities initiative and the underlying data that Work-Ready Communities provide to prospective employers.  By furnishing business decision-makers with an apples-to-apples comparison across different labor markets that relies on fundamental, measurable workplace skills, ACT Work-Ready Communities is something every local economic development organization should look at adopting in their area.

Christopher Chung, CEO

President and CEO of MEC

"The Mississippi Economic Council appreciates both the Legislature and the Mississippi Department of Education for providing an additional focus on career and technical education. This is another example of the importance of making sure our students have the tools necessary to help them make career decisions that can lead to long-term success right here in Mississippi. The ACT WorkKeys assessment is being used more and more by businesses across the state and provides our students a great pathway to a successful career."

Scott Waller

President and CEO of MEC

"Now more than ever, Missouri needs a strong, skilled workforce to move our economy forward. Initiatives like ACT's Work Ready Communities are critical to preparing our future generation for high-skill, high-demand jobs, and we are proud to be leading the nation in this effort."

Mike Parson

Missouri Governor

"Having been in site selection for many years, it has always been difficult to ensure my clients that there is available, stable and reliable workforce in a community. However, in the last few years when I see that a county is ACT Work Ready I know that they are following the steps in planning for the current and future workforce. Therefore, our tendency at FCG is to look strongly at ACT Work Ready Communities for new site locations. I would encourage all communities to seek that status."

Mr. Deane C. Foote, CEcD

Foote Consulting Group, LLC

"As a national site selector, one of the few factors that are critical to almost every company and project is workforce. It is imperative for communities to focus on knowing and improving their existing workforce as well as retaining and attracting high quality talent. ACT Work Ready Communities are setting themselves apart by intentionally developing their local workforce in support of their existing companies while positioning themselves to attract new companies."

Robby Burgan

Manager, Location Strategies

Evergreen Advisors

"ACT Work Ready is truly the best workforce development marketing tool I have seen."

Chad Chancellor


The Next Move Group

New Orleans, Louisiana

"Outstanding program that helps business recruit and retain qualified workers. Congrats on the milestone. As a corrorlary would recommend that all counties become work ready certified.

Dennis Donovan

Director Global Site Selection

Wadley, Donovan, Gutshaw Consulting

"Jonesboro and Craighead County are a great example of what’s right with Arkansas. Becoming an ACT Work Ready Community will make Jonesboro and Craighead County even stronger."

Governor Asa Hutchinson


"One of the main reasons that they decided to remain in Pottawatomie County was because of the strong work force and the county’s commitment to workforce readiness through ACT WorkReady program. Pottawatomie County is one of only three counties in the state that is Certified Work Ready."

Robert Weimann

Co-Owner, Sarto Countertops

"Being A Work Ready Community Champion allows the ease of hiring the best people, and trust what you hired them to do. It allows me to help match the employees to jobs based on verified skill levels. Finding the candidate who possesses the proper trade skill through the ACT Work Ready Program reduces the overall recruiting, onboarding and training cost. It’s a win-win for all involved."

Tracey Faulkner

Director of Human Resources, R-Tech Tool & Machine, Inc.

“Missouri's pioneering spirit is evident in Jasper County, which became the first-ever ACT Work Ready Community more than a decade ago. Since then, the program has been a transformative force, helping countless individuals gain the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in today's workforce. Through the ACT National Career Readiness Certificate and the ACT Work Ready Communities program, employers can easily match the skills and aptitudes they need with a ready and capable workforce. The program is one of the most innovative and effective ways to support our workforce and strengthen our economy.”

Subash Alias

CEO, Missouri Partnership

play button iconSee more ACT WorkKeys testimonials on YouTube

How Work Ready Communities are Winning the Growth Game


The Enterprise of Mississippi ACT Work Ready Communities

Building a Stronger Workforce in Washington County

ACT's WorkKeys: A Big Success in Natchitoches, LA

The Workforce Ecosystem by ACT