How Work Ready Communities Are Winning the Growth Game

ACT Work Ready Communities (WRC) is a framework for community-based workforce development. The primary reason more than 559 [CP1] 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:

5,917,431 people

have earned a WorkKeys National Career Readiness Certificates (NCRC).

28,709 employers

around the US have shown their support for the program.

Site Selection Magazine

uses NCRC data each year to rank state competitiveness.


jobs are profiled for skill alignment.

To indicate your community's interest in participating in the ACT Work Ready Communities initiative, complete this brief form.


Counties use WRC in attracting business

expand window icon


use ACT 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 your job candidate pipeline with solutions for targeted populations such as ex-offenders, immigrants, and welfare recipients.
  • Improve community morale by promoting Work Ready Community certification in site/building listings, community profiles, social media, and other marketing materials.
  • Support disaster recovery, revitalization, and economic resilience.

What Communities Can Participate?

Any community in the United States or U.S. territory may participate if it has a FIPS code. Counties and county equivalents such as parishes, boroughs, and census areas are eligible. More than 500 communities, including Guam, participate in Work Ready Communities.

How Communities Become Certified

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

Number One

Show Your Interest

Contact ACT and a team member will walk you through the process. The interest form only takes one minute to complete.

Start Now
Number Two

Apply Online

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

Number Three

Build Your Team

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

Number Four

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 ACT WRC Boot Camp.
Number Five

Achieve Your Goals

Your community will set goals based on common criteria. These criteria involve individuals earning WorkKeys NCRCs, and employer support.

Number Six


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

Economic Development Solutions

Economic development leaders across the nation are unlocking numerous opportunities through their Work Ready Community efforts, opening new doors to success.

decorative image for view brochure button View Brochure (PDF)

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

President and CEO, MBD

"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, 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."

Gov. Mike Parson

Governor, State of Missouri

"Having been in site selection for many years, it has always been difficult to assure 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."

Deane C. Foote, CEcD

Foote Consulting Group, LLC

"As a national site selector, one of the few factors that is 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 corrolary 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."

Gov. Asa Hutchinson

Governor, State of Arkansas

"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 the ACT WorkReady program. Pottawatomie County is one of only three counties in the state that are certified Work Ready."

Robert Weimann

Co-Owner, Sarto Countertops

"Being A Work Ready Community Champion allows the ease of hiring the best people, and trusting 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

See 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