by Helen Neuharth, President/CEO, Greater Casa Grande Chamber of Commerce

Do you know your neighbors? Do you know what is happening in our community? Let’s talk to one another more often, don’t always depend on social media. I recall the television ad relating a dating scenario: the message from the ad was “just because something is stated on the Internet – it isn’t necessarily true!”

In light of the current and projected business growth, the Greater Casa Grande Chamber of Commerce is working with its partners in economic development in advocating for a workforce ready to meet current and future job skills needed by employers.

That is the reason the chamber strongly encourages its business members (employers) and area employees to become familiar with and use the new Arizona Career Readiness Credential.

This major initiative set forth by Gov. Doug Ducey, in partnership with ARIZONA@WORK and the Office of Economic Opportunity, makes the Arizona Career Readiness Credential (ACRC) available to job seekers across the state.

Arizona’s employers have made it known they have difficulty finding job candidates with the foundational academic, personal and technical skills needed to be successful, and this initiative (acrc.az.gov) was designed in direct response to those concerns.

When discussing the importance of the ACRC free, job-training tool recently with John Nelson, consultant to the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity, he noted that, “statewide, employers tell us they cannot find suitable candidates for their jobs and job seekers tell us they cannot find suitable employment.”

Arizona has one of the highest “labor market NON-participation” rates in the country. In the prime working years of 35-54, 40 percent of Arizonans are sitting on the sidelines.

Projects are not starting because employers cannot find the workers they need. Millions of dollars are sitting on the sidelines, along with the people who could learn to thrive in those jobs.”

“What are those skills that employers need desperately but so many candidates lack? The Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) asked hundreds of employers – across the state, large and small, in all sectors – for precise answers because generalities aren’t enough when family livelihoods, business success, and the state’s economy are at stake,” said Nelson.

“Now that jobseekers can upgrade their skills to meet your standards, they need to know that help is available and that you value the service,” Nelson added.

This tool prepares job seekers for success by demonstrating their command of seven skill areas relevant to every occupation, industry and career pathway across the state: applied mathematics; reading for information; workplace data and graphics; communicating effectively; teamwork and collaboration; professionalism and critical thinking and problem solving.

In connecting business and community, the Greater Casa Grande Chamber of Commerce has long taken an active role in helping to meet the workforce needs of our area employers. Since employers specified which job skills are most valuable to their businesses in the development of the ACRC program, it will benefit both our local and state economies.

For more information about the ACRC, visit acrc.az.gov or contact the Casa Grande office of Arizona@Work of Pinal County at (520) 866-3600,  or visit arizonaatwork.com/pinal.