Farm Bureau Funds Career Readiness Certificate Testing

Clarke County Public Schools and the Clarke County Farm Bureau took a step forward together in improving options for students who elect to defer traditional college enrollment after leaving Clarke County High School.

At last night’s School Board meeting Farm Bureau board members Chris Bates said that $1500 was being provided towards the first year’s trial of a Career Readiness Certification program.

Bates announcement came after a presentation by former CCHS student and now Bank of Clarke loan officer Bobby Hobbs who chairs the School Board’s Career & Technical Committee.

CCHS students could soon receive certification that they have mastered basic employment skills upon gradutation

After nearly a year of work the committee, which also includes CCPS Superintendent Dr. Michael Murphy and School Board member Robina Bouffault (White Post), recommended implementing a “Career Readiness Certificate” program, partnering with the Winchester Economic Development Commission’s Career Awareness Tours and improving CCPS’s emphasis on keyboarding and Microsoft Office software in elementary school through 8th grade.

“The committee arrived at a general consensus that these three ideas most closely aligned with the goals of the Career & Technical Education department at the high school” Hobbs told the School Board. “Additionally, they are not costly to implement and would not strain an already tight budget and could be explored without putting an undue burden on current staff or hiring extra faculty.”

The $1500 pledged by Bates would be used to cover the $30 cost of each test according to Bouffault.

Hobbs explained that the Virginia’s Career Readiness Certificate (CRC) is an assessment-based credential that gives employers and career seekers a uniform measure of key workplace skills. The test consists of three sections Hobbs said; applied mathematics, locating information, and reading for information.

“There is great concern in the private sector about the gap that exists between the skills required in today’s workplace and those exhibited by potential and incumbent employees” Hobbs said. “Businesses have trouble finding and hiring people who have basic employable skills and who are therefore trainable for specific jobs. The Career Readiness Certificate is a portable skills credential, assuring employers that a job applicant actually has the basic skills they seek.”

Hobbs said that he had also had discussion with the Winchester Frederick County Economic Development Commission (EDC) that operates Career Awareness Tours.

Hobbs said that the career tours expose high school students to local opportunities in manufacturing occupations have very successful in helping Handley and Frederick County students land jobs.

“Area businesses including O’Sullivan Films, Kraft Foods, Crown Beverage, Winchester Metals, Greenbay Packaging and Reimer’s Electra Steam are hiring people with high school degrees at around $2000 month” Hobbs said. “That’s probably not enough to raise a family on but it’s start.”

Hobbs also encouraged the schools to do more to improve computer skills of graduates and to begin early.

“Almost all jobs will require some degree of computer literacy in the future” Hobbs said. “Most jobs already require basic computer skills. Computers are not going away, students need to be comfortable with common workplace software and applications.”

School Board member Jennifer Welliver (Berryville) said that she believed that regardless of whether students planned to follow traditional college career paths or a vocational path it is still important that students leave school prepared for additional levels of higher learning.

“High school graduates that may not plan to go to college still need to have the foundation so that they are able to go to college if they change their minds in the future.”