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Oswego County launches new program to connect residents with job openings

WRVO News (file photo)

Oswego County businesses have long complained about the lack of a skilled workforce in the area. Local officials are now trying to address the issue with a workforce development program that could lower the unemployment rate and put Oswego County on the map.

The new Work Ready initiative is an online assessment administered by Cayuga Community College. It measures one's abilities in so-called essential workplace skills like applied math, graphic literacy, and workplace documents. Those who take the test can earn a certification or discover where they need to improve in order to be successful in the local job market.

“This is a highly-researched, comprehensive effort that aligns the skills of our local workforce with those in demand by employers," said Carla DeShaw, Cayuga Community College’s Executive Dean of Community Education and Workforce Development, in a press release. "The ACT WorkKeys System, which includes an online curriculum, helps participants identify potential careers, improve their work readiness skills and earn a nationally-recognized citation."

Oswego County Legislator Roy Reehill says the test will alert Oswego County employers to Oswego County residents who are qualified for their openings and even allow businesses to design job applications using the assessment.

"It’s a big marriage between between the educational system and the businesses that are here to help those businesses not just be successful but be able to grow here," Reehill said.

Reehill says some Oswego County businesses like Novelis and Huhtamaki are already using the program. If the county can get 52 businesses signed on and 512 residents to score high enough on the assessment to become certified, the county would be the first in New York and the northeast to earn a skilled-workforce designation.

"We hope that we will also be attractive to help recruit new businesses to come into the area if they know here’s a community, here’s a county that has aligned the educational forces to help businesses grow," He said.

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.