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:
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.
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 jobseekers and employees have the workplace skills needed to succeed on the job.
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.
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.
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.
For more information on how to acquire a National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC), contact any South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation local office.
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.
Job profiling is the right approach for organizations that could benefit from:
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.
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:
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.
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*.)
NCRC – "Stand Up for a Skilled Workforce" brochure (for employers)
NCRC - "Stand Out from the Crowd" brochure (for job seekers)
NCRC - "Ask for the ACT NCRC work skills credential" (for employers)
Heather Nelson – Program Specialist (East area - Watertown) 605.882.5131
Barb Unruh – Program Specialist (West area - Pierre) 605.773.3101
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