CHARLESTON – Today's global economy is dependent on an educated, skilled and versatile workforce.

In West Virginia, we are developing a national reputation for our skilled training programs and workers who are committed to getting the job done – and doing it well.

Across the board, our state's employee turnover rate is 8.8 percent, compared to the national average of 9.1 percent. Moreover, we are tied for the fifth lowest turnover rate among manufacturing industries at only 5 percent.

National benchmark studies also show – and confirm – that our workforce is one of the most productive in the entire country. A number of specialized training programs administered through WorkForce West Virginia help our state achieve and maintain these ratings. These programs not only help business owners and employees develop and implement smart practices, but also offer guidance and resources to help them achieve long-term success.

The path to success begins with having the knowledge and in-demand skills required for many of today's jobs. The WorkKeys program helps West Virginia workers tailor their personal portfolio to include real world, high demand skills required by business and industry operating here at home. Through this program, participants work, train and study to earn Career Readiness Certificates that demonstrate their abilities in three basic areas: Reading for Information, Applied Mathematics, and Locating Information. When potential employees use WorkKeys to show they are ready to work, they have an advantage with employers who accept or require their job applicants to have a WorkKeys certificate.

Many businesses also offer On-the-Job Training programs, in which participants can "learn as they earn." By participating in training as an employee, the participant acquires new skills and knowledge – while earning the same wages and benefits as current employees in the same and/or similar positions. Employers also benefit by being reimbursed for part of the participant's wages during the training period, while having a skilled, full-time employee on staff.

Companies across the Mountain State are capitalizing on these offerings to train and advance their workers. Procter and Gamble, which recently announced plans to open a manufacturing facility near Martinsburg, will team with Blue Ridge Community and Technical College to train its employees. Macy's has also taken advantage of Blue Ridge's programs for its fulfillment center employees in Martinsburg. In addition, Toyota and BridgeValley Community and Technical College partner in a program called "Advanced Manufacturing Technician," or AMT. This education-to-work program gives students hands-on experience in manufacturing, while earning a two-year degree.

The Governor's Guaranteed Work Force Program is always looking for innovative ways to help new and expanding businesses train, retrain or upgrade the skills of their employees. West Virginia workers are among the best in the world. Advancing our workforce through these educational partnerships and training programs is an investment with a lasting, invaluable return – a future that is bright and prosperous for West Virginia and her people.

For more information on any of these and any other additional programs, stop by your local WorkForce office or call 1-800-252-JOBS.

Tomblin is West Virginia's governor.

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