Finding the right talent to fill available jobs is a top concern for more and more business leaders. In fact, many employers ready to expand or relocate say a competitive workforce weighs heavier in their location decision than the availability of shovel-ready sites.
While every job requires its own specific skills and knowledge, existing and potential employers alike seek candidates with proven workplace skills – the basics that demonstrate a candidate can solve problems and succeed.
The Kentucky National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) is a tested tool to measure those workplace skills and a candidate’s readiness for the 21st century workforce.
The Kentucky NCRC evaluates three essential skills considered the best predictors of workplace success, whether a candidate has attained a high school diploma, a college degree or industry training. These skills are applied mathematics, reading for information and locating information.
The Kentucky NCRC is based on three WorkKeys assessments, which are objective, standardized assessments given in a monitored testing environment. ACT, the organization well known for its college entrance exam, issues the certificate.
The certificate has helped many employers screen candidates more efficiently and effectively, said Kristal DiCarlo, human resources manager for AGC Automotive in Elizabethtown. Her former employer, in Georgia, required the NCRC for production positions, she added.
“We found it to be very effective in ensuring we had people with the reading and math skills and the basic aptitude for that work,” DiCarlo said, referring to her former company.
Recently, AGC Automotive, which hires through Pinnacle Staffing, has made the NCRC a preferred job qualification. DiCarlo noted employers must have their positions profiled by ACT before making the NCRC a job requirement.
“It has real value to employers,” said Steve Meredith, former CEO of Twin Lakes Regional Medical Center and leader of the Work Ready Community effort in Grayson County. “I would be looking for those candidates because they’ve taken the initiative to earn this certification.”
The number of NCRC holders and companies recognizing the certificate is expected to grow as more counties apply for Kentucky Work Ready Community certification.
Work Ready Communities, developed by the Kentucky Workforce Investment Board, is the state’s measure of counties’ workforces. The criteria include National Career Readiness Certificate holders as well as high school graduation rates, community commitment, educational attainment, soft skills development and Internet availability. Counties are required to develop a plan to grow NCRC certification within the local workforces.
“For employers, it has financial benefits as it reduces costs associated with turnover and training,” Meredith said. “It’s going to give employers some idea that they have a candidate with motivation.”
For job seekers, the certificate is a way to promote their workplace skills and stand out in the candidate pool.
“For the job seeker, it certainly is helpful, and in my experience it gives them an advantage over other applicants,” DiCarlo said.
Though program implementation may vary from state to state, the certificate is a nationally recognized credential.
“People can take this anywhere throughout the country, and it will have merit,” Meredith said.
Additionally, the NCRC serves as an effective measure of a region’s workforce skills, helping economic development officials attract more career opportunities.
NCRC testing is available throughout the Lincoln Trail region and job seekers may qualify for free testing. If you are interested in attaining this national credential, call the Kentucky Career Center – Lincoln Trail in Bardstown, Elizabethtown, Lebanon or Leitchfield for more information.
Employers of any size or industry sector can find out more about the certificate at the Kentucky Career Center – Lincoln Trail or by calling the Kentucky National Career Readiness Certification Center at (502) 564-5331.
Jim Skees is the Business Liaison for Lincoln Trail Area Development District and Regional Business Services Team member for Kentucky Career Center – Lincoln Trail, which is overseen by the Lincoln Trail Workforce Investment Board. He can be reached at (270) 769-2393 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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