Salem has been designated as a Work Ready Community in progress by the Missouri Department of Economic Development. This means that Salem workers are one step closer to receiving aid in adjusting to the present economic shift through obtaining ACT National Career Ready Certificates. This will help both new graduates, and those seeking new career paths, to find jobs and demonstrate their skills to potentials employers.

The foundations of the US economy are changing and the major businesses hiring today are from the healthcare, energy, information technology, and advanced manufacturing sectors. These industries require very specific skill sets from their employees, which today’s workforce is often unfortunately unprepared to fill.

The Missouri Work Ready Communities program is designed to address this growing skills gap through helping potential employees, and employers looking for skilled workers, connect with each other through an integrated system of trainings, tests, and job assessments. The primary way this system works is through potential workers receiving ACT National Career Ready Certificates, which demonstrate their preparedness to work within a certain vocational sector. With these certificates, they can then seek out, and be recruited by, businesses that are actively seeking employees with those skill sets.

Through participating in this system, Salem will not only produce highly skilled workers, but it will also develop a reputation as a good place for businesses to recruit employees.

As of now, Salem has two more years to hit the program’s measurement goals to become a fully integrated Work Ready Community and not simply be in progress, but support is on the way to achieve these goals. City Administrator Ray Walden reported to community leaders on Thursday that Dent County is one of four counties within the Meramec Regional Planning Commission that will be splitting a $128,460 grant to increase the number of residents with National Career Readiness Certificates. Walden says the funds from this grant will provide financial support for covering the cost of tests, marketing and profiling services for targeted jobs.

Among the local organizations supporting Salem’s Work Ready Community effort are Crossroads Inn & Suites, Progressive Ozark Bank, Salem Memorial District Hospital, Salem Publishing Company, Salem R-80 School District, The Bank of Salem, Independent Stave Company, Vandivort Drug, Cornerstone Family Chiropractic Center, Dent County Health Center, Council for a Healthy Dent County, Salem United Methodist Church, Southwest Baptist University, Larson Collision Center, T & W Services Inc, Town and Country Bank, DefBar Systems LLC, US Foods, City of Salem and the Dent County Commission.