Carter County working toward becoming ACT Work Ready Community

Lottie Ryans

Lottie Ryans, Executive Director of First Tennessee Development District, and Mandy Gillilan, Manager of International Paper in Elizabethton, presented the various steps Carter County businesses are taking toward earning the distinction of being an ACT Work Ready Community. Through partnerships with businesses and schools, Carter County is well on its way to earning the moniker and to developing and retaining a workforce prepared for the jobs of the future.

Work Ethic Diploma
The Work Ethic Diploma is a distinction that high school seniors can earn which shows they are dependable, intelligent and determined young people prepared to enter the workforce. Upon graduation, if those students have earned the required number of credits towards the distinction, they receive a seal on their diploma and a guaranteed interview where eligible with dozens of area businesses. Businesses that have signed on are in the fields of healthcare, manufacturing and other industries. All area high schools are participating, and more businesses are encouraged to get involved.

National Career Readiness Certificate
The NCRC is a test which current students in the emerging workforce, underemployed or currently employed persons can take to show preparedness for the workforce. More and more businesses are signing on to recognize the certificate and even guaranteeing job interviews to those who have passed the test with qualifying scores. The test assesses universal skills that are applicable across industries. Businesses are encouraged to sign on to recognize the NCRC and those who have taken it. Businesses that have done so have seen a 25 – 75 percent reduction in turnover rates and have been able to hire more qualified and determined workers.

A $25,000 Three Star Grant acquired in partnership with the Carter County Economic Development Office is making it possible for students in Carter County and Elizabethton high schools to take the test at no cost. With an increasing number of participating students and individuals taking the test, as well as businesses recognizing the certificates, Ryans hopes business and industry will thrive in the First District.

Only 14 counties in Tennessee are currently considered ACT Work Ready Communities, and Ryans hopes Carter County and others in the First District will soon qualify by meeting thresholds for participation in NCRC and WED. To learn more, visit

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