ACT Launches Enhanced National Career Readiness Certificate

Posted November 02, 2011

IOWA CITY, Iowa—ACT today launched an initiative designed to assist America’s job seekers and employers. By earning a National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC), job seekers have a way to stand out from those competing for the same jobs, and employers have an objective measure of an applicant’s workplace skills. The enhanced version introduced today as the National Career Readiness Certificate Plus (NCRC Plus) adds a valuable new dimension in terms of the work-related behaviors an individual is inclined to practice on the job.

“We are proud to mark the five-year anniversary of the National Career Readiness Certificate with this important enhancement,” said Martin Scaglione, president of ACT’s Workforce Development Division. “Employers have long requested this behavioral skills enhancement. In fact, many employers rate soft skills just as important as cognitive skills in identifying workers who will be successful and are more likely to stay on the job.”

Jennifer McNelly, senior vice president at The Manufacturing Institute of the National Manufacturers Association (NAM), commented, “We have been encouraging ACT to add the Talent assessment for some time, and we welcome this enhancement to the NCRC. The added dimension of important soft skill scores is directly aligned to what manufacturers are demanding of their current and future workforces. The combination of core academic and workplace skills with personal skills such as teamwork and customer service orientation ensures that an individual is ready to enter and move ahead in careers in advanced manufacturing.”

To earn a bronze, silver, gold or platinum NCRC, an individual takes three WorkKeys assessments: Applied Mathematics, Reading for Information and Locating Information. To earn an NCRC Plus, an individual must also take the WorkKeys Talent assessment.

ACT’s Talent assessment, introduced in 2007 and enhanced in 2009, is a 165-item, computer-administered test that takes only about a half-hour to complete. The examinee is asked to agree or disagree with each statement. The Talent assessment measures 12 facets of an individual’s personality, including carefulness, cooperation, creativity, discipline, optimism, order and stability. Relevant facet scores are then combined to establish an index or compound score for four work-related capacities:

    • Work Discipline:
productivity and dependability
    • Teamwork:
tolerance, communication and attitude
    • Customer Service Orientation:
interpersonal skills and perseverance
    • Managerial Potential:
persuasion, enthusiasm and problem solving

To earn an NCRC Plus, an individual must earn a score of at least 3 on all three cognitive skills tests and rank in the second quartile (26%-50%) or higher on at least one of the four Talent indices. The cognitive skills scores determine whether the individual earns a bronze, silver, gold or platinum NCRC; the Talent quartile scores determine whether the Plus designation is added.

Substantial research supports the use of cognitive and soft skills tests to help human resource professionals and managers make selection, promotion, coaching and developmental decisions. Assessment results can be used to identify desirable skill levels and work characteristics, helping to reduce turnover rates, lower training costs and increase productivity. ACT supports the concept of a national credentialing system for workforce skills and shares the contents of its JobPro database comprising the results of more than 18,000 detailed job profiles.

WorkKeys assessments were introduced in 1992 and the NCRC was introduced in 2006. Today at least 44 states recognize the portable, registered NCRC as part of a statewide or regional program. More than 1.2 million registered Certificates have been issued.