I.C. MURRELL — Want to work? Let’s get ready to go to work

Published 12:19 am Friday, January 24, 2020

We know about the great leaders and living legends of Port Arthur. We know about the championship winners. We know this is one of America’s ports.

We know Port Arthur has a strong education base where children and young men and women can learn anything of their hearts’ desires. That’s very important to keep the literal and figurative energy going.

We also know Port Arthur has an infrastructure problem, and civic, education and business leaders want to do something about it.

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The word “infrastructure” didn’t get tossed around very often at a gathering of such leaders Jan. 16 at the Carl Parker Center, but the contributions of local workers to this city can only help to turn things around.

The conference was centered on helping make Port Arthur a certified Work Ready Community. To achieve this, ACT — the standardized test company formerly known as American College Testing — has established a Work Ready Communities initiative that helps local governments use “data, processes and tools that drive economic growth,” by its own explanation.

A major tool in the initiative is a test that awards National Career Readiness Certificates to individuals. Texas is one of 29 states that are home to at least one ACT Work Ready Community, with 26,079 employers supporting the initiative.

Of the more than 4.8 million people who obtain an NCRC, nearly 2.6 million of them reach Level 4, or silver-certified status, meaning they’re qualified to go into 69 percent of jobs that ACT profiles. One million testers reach Level 5, or gold status, meaning they’re ready for 93 percent of profiled jobs, while an elite class of 119,298 reach Level 6 or 7, or platinum status, and can go into 99 percent of those jobs. Those who test at Level 3 achieve bronze status.

To paraphrase Work Ready Communities regional manager Tony Garife, local employers want to hire people with most-wanted skills aside from what they may have acquired in school.

“When we do our incentive here, locally in Port Arthur, we ask people to hire from Port Arthur,” said George Davis, deputy director of the Port Arthur Economic Development Corporation. “This is a big step, we think, to change the whole narrative about people not being able to get jobs here in Port Arthur that are qualified.”

Do not be mistaken: It’s a joy that people who come from afar consider our fair city to build their lives, families and careers, and may that continue. But once Port Arthur is certified Work Ready — and it will happen — there will be no excuses for not looking from within first.

Oh, just a footnote to the championship winners: I learned that Marland Jeffrey, a 1937 Thomas Jefferson graduate, played on Texas A&M’s 1939 national championship team. He recorded rushing, passing and catching statistics and also played baseball for the Aggies.

Write it down, chief. Port Arthur has another national champion.

I.C. Murrell is the editor of The Port Arthur News. He can be reached at 409-721-2435 or at ic.murrell@panews.com.

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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