The idea behind a work/career readiness certificate/credential is that workers or potential workers who have achieved a set level of proficiencies in areas needed for entry-level jobs will be provided with a certificate or credential that will signify to employers their level of readiness to be employed. The bestowing of a certificate would be of value to the instructor, the adult learner wishing to be employed, and the employer. Employers, many of whom have long complained that prospective employees lack needed skills for entry level work, would have job applicants certified to have the needed skills. Workers would
have documentation of their skills and would have a competitive edge over those applicants without a credential. A credential would provide the increased confidence and assurance that they were prepared for work. And instructors would have a clearer idea of which skills to emphasize and a way to demonstrate to adult learners the progress the learners were making. Then if assessments being used and the skills being measured were standardized across the United States, workers would have a credential that was portable from one community to the next and from state to state.
A variety of work readiness certificates have been adopted across the United States. They differ in target populations and competencies stressed. Most focus on both hard and soft skills. Some require only that the worker pass a test measuring competencies, while others are obtained by completing a training program and then successfully demonstrating skills on an assessment. Some states have already adopted a specific program statewide, and many more are considering the options.
Three work readiness programs have wide acceptance and appeal across the U.S. They are (1) WorkKeys Career Readiness Certification, a product of ACT, Inc.; (2) National Work Readiness Credential, endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; and (3) Workforce Skills Certification System, offered by CASAS (Comprehensive Adult Student Assessment System).
Norma Rey-Alicea, project manager for the Building Economic Opportunity Group at Jobs for the Future;
Geri Scott, senior project manager at Jobs for the Future;
Traci Lepicki, Project Coordinator, Ohio's Career Readiness Credential, The Ohio State University Center on Education and Training for Employment;
Adrienne Glandon, Ohio's Career Readiness Credential, The Ohio State University Center on Education and Training for Employment;
Louis Soares, Director of the National Work Readiness Council;
Lanse Davis, Senior Policy Analyst with the NJ State Employment and Training Commission, the State WIB;
Judy Titzel, Adult Education Specialist, RI Adult Education Professional Development Center; Jane Eguez, Director of Program Planning, CASAS
Melissa Dayton, Workforce Program Specialist, CASAS
- "Why would employers want to support the idea of work readiness credentials?"
- Where does the funding for credentialing programs come from?
- Are they generally held in workplaces with cooperation from the company or are they usually pre-employment ventures?
Readings and Resources:
- WorkKeys Career Readiness Certification, a product of ACT, Inc.
- National Work Readiness Credential, endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; and (3) Workforce Skills Certification System, offered by CASAS (Comprehensive Adult Student Assessment System).
- Workforce Skills Certification System
A comparison of these three plus two state-wide (Arkansas and Florida) systems, "A Survey of Selected Work Readiness Certificates," is published online by Jobs for the Future at http://www.jff.org/Documents/WorkReadiness.pdf
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