Department of Labor and Regulation

Title - Workforce Training & Education

National Career Readiness Certificate

The National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC™) is an industry-recognized, portable, evidence-based credential that certifies essential skills necessary for workplace success. This credential is used across all sectors of the economy and verifies the following cognitive skills:

  • Problem solving
  • Critical thinking
  • Reading and using work-related text
  • Applying information from workplace documents to solve problems
  • Applying mathematical reasoning to work-related problems
  • Setting up and performing work-related mathematical calculations
  • Locating, synthesizing and applying information presented graphically
  • Comparing, summarizing and analyzing information presented in multiple related graphics

Individuals can earn the NCRC by taking three WorkKeys® assessments:

WorkKeys assessments measure real world skills employers believe are critical to job success. Test questions are based on situations in the everyday work world. Learn more about each of the assessments and view sample questions on the ACT website.

Read a column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard about the value of the NCRC.

View a video about the National Career Readiness Certificate on the DLR YouTube channel.

Click here to view a video about the Career Readiness Certificate on the DLR YouTube channel.

NCRC for Job Seekers

Benefits of the NCRC for Individuals

The NCRC offers individuals, employers and educators an easily understood and nationally valued credential certifying essential workplace skills. The Certificate is designed to complement other traditional credentials, such as a high school diploma, community college degree, or college degree. While these education credentials mark the fulfillment of classroom learning experiences, the NCRC proves job seekers and employees have the workplace skills needed to succeed on the job.

WorkKeys Assessment

The WorkKeys assessment system, developed by ACT, is the leading job skills assessment system in the nation. These assessments measure real world foundational skills critical to job success, regardless of occupation. WorkKeys assessments can provide reliable, relevant information about an individual’s workplace skill levels.

WorkKeys also offers job analysis to identify skills required for jobs, and training to correct skill gaps. ACT has profiled more than 20,000 individual jobs across the country to determine the skill being used and the level needed for job success. According to ACT findings, three skills are essential to nearly every job: applied mathematics, locating information, and reading for information.

Applied Mathematics sample questions

Locating Information sample questions

Reading for Information sample questions

WorkKeys assessments are considered high-stakes exams. They are proctored by a statewide network of providers contracted by the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation.

Find a WorkKeys provider in South Dakota.

Preparing for the WorkKeys Assessment: KeyTrain®

KeyTrain is a comprehensive, easy-to-use system for improving the basic skills measured by the WorkKeys Assessment System. Using KeyTrain, individuals can assess their potential WorkKeys score, review topics in each WorkKeys skill area, and practice with item types similar to those found on an actual WorkKeys assessment.

The KeyTrain system includes targeted, self-paced instruction, pre- and post-assessments, a complete learning management system, and an occupational job profile database. These components can help individuals learn, practice and demonstrate the skills they need to succeed in the jobs and career they desire.

Getting Started

For more information on how to acquire a National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC), contact any South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation local office.

Sharing Your Achievement with Employers

Certificates can be shared with prospective employers in person or by including the information on a résumé and referencing the achievement on job applications. All certificate holders are encouraged to access their online account to share the certificate electronically and to manage account details.

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NCRC for Employers

Using the NCRC as a Staffing Tool

  • Screening – Employers interview only applicants who have the skills required for the job.
  • Hiring and promotion – Employers use the NCRC as a plus factor to help make selection and promotion decisions.
  • Targeting employee training and development – Employers target their training budgets for job-specific skills rather than basic skills.

Job profiling is the right approach for organizations that could benefit from:

  • A focus group format that promotes discussion between current employees (job incumbents) and an ACT-authorized job profiler
  • A customized report documenting the tasks of the job, skill levels required for the job, and the qualitative reasoning behind the skill levels provided by the job incumbents
  • Results that can be used to support hiring, promotion, and training decisions

ACT has one of the largest, most robust occupational profiles databases available. More than 20,000 positions have been profiled by ACT-authorized job profilers. Extensive research has identified the essential skills and skill levels for each job. That information can be used in employee selection, hiring, and training. Employers can identify the skills needed for their employees to be successful on the job by accessing the occupational profiles database.

Using the NCRC for Economic Development

Establishing strategies that create jobs and raise wage rates is the primary mission of economic development. Information generated by adopting the National Career Readiness System helps states and regions fulfill this mission by:

  • Documenting workforce quality for relocating and expanding businesses
  • Providing local businesses with a better-trained workforce
  • Helping employers plan and address existing and future employment needs

By participating in the NCRC project and completing the WorkKeys Assessments, organizations can gather data identifying foundational skill levels. This skill level data can be used to target training efforts, improve high school graduation rates, educate individuals and businesses regarding the value of an NCRC, or address other specific local workforce issues. Utilizing the NCRC system not only identifies the skills necessary for a qualified workforce, but also provides a framework for maintaining or improving those skills.

The availability of skilled labor is a major factor in helping business executives and economic development consultants identify the best locations for expansion and relocation. Information generated by the National Career Readiness Certificate represents a unique source of objective data describing workforce skills. This makes it a powerful component in strategic planning and marketing activities at the local, regional or state levels.

Support the NCRC

South Dakota employers who would like to join the effort in recognizing, recommending or preferring the NCRC as a way to ensure the hiring of a certified and skilled workforce should complete the Employer Letter of Endorsement. (Download here in Microsoft Word or Adobe .pdf format*.)

South Dakota Employer Support

The following South Dakota employers are standing up for a skilled workforce by recognizing, recommending or preferring the NCRC.

American Legion Post 8 (Pierre)
City of Elk Point (Elk Point)
City of Pierre (Pierre)
Commercial State Bank (Wagner)
Elk Point-Jefferson School District (Elk Point)
Fort Randal Federal Credit Union (Pickstown)
Fred Haar Company, Division of C&B Operations, LLC (Wagner)
Hire-A-Husband, Inc. (Pierre)
Golden Living Center (Pierre)
Inside Scoop (Lake Andes)
K & K Kustoms (Belle Fourche)
Meyerink Farm Service (Platte)
Miller School District (Miller)
Molded Fiber Glass (Aberdeen)
NetFortris (Mitchell)
OAHE, Inc. (Pierre)
OAHE Child Development Center (Pierre)
Palmer Currier and Hoffert, LLP (Pierre)
The Pointe (Elk Point)
Ross Rentals (Belle Fourche)
Scott Peterson Motors, Inc (Belle Fourche)
Scott Peterson Motors of Sturgis (Sturgis)
SESDAC, Inc. (Vermillion)
South Dakota Pulse Processors, LLC (Harrold)
Spearfish Forest Products (Spearfish)
Twin City Fan (Mitchell)
Wagner Building & Supply Co. (Wagner)
Wegner Auto (Pierre)
Wolsey-Wessington School District 2-6 (Wolsey)


NCRC - flier

NCRC – "Stand Up for a Skilled Workforce" brochure (for employers)

NCRC - "Stand Out from the Crowd" brochure (for job seekers)

NCRC - "Core Assessments for Certification" booklet

NCRC - "Ask for the ACT NCRC work skills credential" (for employers)

Other Resources

ACT website - for more information on the NCRC and WorkKeys

KeyTrain website

South Dakota Contacts for More Information

Heather Nelson – Program Specialist (East area - Watertown) 605.882.5131

Barb Unruh – Program Specialist (West area - Pierre) 605.773.3101

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Marcia Hultman, Secretary
700 Governors Drive
Pierre, SD 57501-2291
Tel. 605.773.3101
Fax. 605.773.6184