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Perdue honors Gwinnett Tech official

Photo by Nate McCullough

Photo by Nate McCullough

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Ann Sechrist is passionate about the Georgia Work Ready initiative.

As the director of economic development at Gwinnett Technical College, Sechrist administers the state program for Gwinnett County.

"It's all about the work force and getting people back into the work force," she said. "It gives workers another thing they can put on their resume. ... It sets them apart from the other workers that do not have this."

The Work Ready initiative consists of three major components: job profiling, designed to help employers build the right work forces for their needs by allowing companies to work with an authorized job profiler to identify the required job tasks and skill levels for each position; Work Ready certificates, which measure both core skills and work habits; and gap training, which provides online training programs for the three core assessments of the Work Ready certificate at no cost to job seekers.

Sechrist, who holds a Gold Work Ready Certificate, participates in every Work Ready administrators meeting and conference call. She also hosted a training meeting for more than 40 administrators.

Those were among the accolades noted when she was named a Work Ready Administrator of the Year earlier this month. She was selected for the honor by Gov. Sonny Perdue and the Governor's Office of Workforce Development.

"I look at it as a team accomplishment," Sechrist said of the honor. "There's no way I would have accomplished this (alone). ... It's a team thing."

Sechrist said the success of the program depends on the assessment center, which administers the tests for the certificates; job profilers; and career services, which provides the gap training.

"Ann has been invaluable in bringing the Work Ready program to both Gwinnett job seekers and employers -- helping job seekers earn a competitive edge in the marketplace and helping employers find and hire the best qualified candidates for their jobs," Gwinnett Tech President Sharon Bartels said. "She brings great insight into work force development and a passion for education and training to every aspect of her role."

Since the Work Ready program began in 2007, more than 4,200 people have been assessed for Work Ready certificates in Gwinnett County, and 2,741 certificates had been earned by the end of October. (About 1,600 certificate assessments had not been processed.)

There are four levels of certificates: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum, Sechrist said. To earn a certificate, test takers must take assessments in applied math, reading for information and locating information. The certificate level is based on the test taker's lowest assessment score.

A Gold-level certificate indicates you can do 90 percent of jobs, Sechrist said.

Gwinnett County has met its goals for the number of people in the potential work force that have earned certificates, Sechrist said. The potential work force includes unemployed adult, high school graduates entering the work force, current high school seniors, technical college graduates, and college graduates or recent attendees.

Now the county is trying to increase the number of incumbent workers who obtain certificates.

The certificates cannot be used to fire or demote people, Sechrist said. The certificates should be used to validate skills and show what people can learn and what they can do.

"Work Ready is helping make our state a top destination for jobs and investment," Perdue said. "Through the Work Ready program, communities around Georgia have rallied together and committed to developing the talented work force that business demands and the educational infrastructure to drive sustained economic growth and prosperity."

Gwinnett County residents can take the certificate assessment for free. For more information, visit www.GwinnettTech.edu and click on "Georgia Work Ready."