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Gwinnett, Barrow applying to be work ready communities

ATLANTA - Gwinnett and Barrow are two of the 72 Georgia counties in the process of becoming certified work ready communities.

That designation comes as part of an expansion by Gov. Sonny Perdue to the state's Work Ready Program. The program is composed of a skills assessment and certification for job seekers and a job profiling system for businesses.

The expansion will help ensure Georgia has the talent necessary to staff existing jobs and to master the innovative technologies new jobs will require, a press release from the Governor's Office said.

To become a work ready community, counties must demonstrate a commitment to improving high school graduation rates and show that graduates are entering the work force and workers are obtaining certifications as work ready. Counties will have three years to reach the goals needed to earn the designation.

"By aligning education and training programs with the needs of business, we are making sure that Georgia is meeting the hiring needs and delivering a competitive advantage," Perdue said.

Sloan Roach, spokeswoman for Gwinnett County Public Schools, said the initiative fits in nicely with the Partnership Gwinnett strategy being led by the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce.

Partnership Gwinnett is a public-private partnership that hopes to create 65,400 jobs over the next five years. One of the ways the chamber hopes to accomplish that is by partnering with the school system and local colleges and universities to make sure students are prepared for the next step in their lives.

"Obviously, we're always very interested in making sure our students are ready for the work force," Roach said. "We're continually trying to raise graduation rates and make sure our students have the skills they need. That's why we're a part of Partnership Gwinnett."