President Obama Announces Support of Skills Initiative Powered by ACT’s National Career Readiness Certificate

Posted June 08, 2011

ALEXANDRIA, Virginia—Today President Barack Obama announced support for the goal to credential a half million community college students over the next five years with skills certifications designed to help build the educated and skilled workforce U.S. manufacturers need to successfully compete in the 21st century economy. He cited The Manufacturing Institute’s NAM-endorsed Skills Certification System as a national solution. At the foundation of this System is ACT’s National Career Readiness Certificate, a gateway credential to the overall Skills Certification System.

The National Career Readiness Certificate is a widely recognized credential designed to validate the skills needed to succeed in all sectors of the manufacturing industry. The Manufacturing Institute, the nonprofit affiliate of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) that manages the Skills Certification Program, selected ACT as a partner in March 2009.

The Manufacturing Skills Certification System has also garnered unilateral cabinet support from the secretaries of education, labor, and commerce.

President Obama’s announcement was made at an event at Northern Virginia Community College alongside leadership from the National Association of Manufacturers and The Manufacturing Institute as well as ACT CEO Jon Whitmore and ACT Workforce Development President Martin Scaglione. Also in attendance were representatives from other certification partners including the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, the American Welding Society, the National Institute of Metalworking Skills, and the Manufacturing Skills Standards Council.

“ACT is honored to be a partner in the Manufacturing Skills Certification System,” said Whitmore. “This has been, and will continue to be, a collaborative and effective approach to addressing our nation’s evolving workforce needs. Stackable credentials offer a continuum that builds the pipeline with the National Career Readiness Certificate at the base, while providing career pathways through additional industry-wide and occupation-specific certifications.”

“The growth of our economy can happen only if the education and skills of our workforce also grow,” added Scaglione. “President Obama’s announcement of support today reinforces America’s need for nationally portable, industry-recognized skills credentials. The result ensures that our workforce possess the skills needed to succeed in our new economy.”

In 2010, more than 457,000 individuals earned a registered National Career Readiness Certificate and many thousands more earned a Career Readiness Certificate from a state or regional program using the same ACT assessments and based on the same standards as the National Career Readiness Certificate.

More than 1,200 community and technical colleges across the nation are already equipped to administer the three WorkKeys® assessments that power the National Career Readiness Certificate. Many of these institutions also offer ACT’s KeyTrain® curriculum of online tutorials and skill-building software. In total, there are more than 5,000 locations where the proctored assessments can be administered to those seeking documentation of their essential workplace skills.

In January 2011, ACT released a report proposing that we need to intensify national efforts to improve and validate the skills of our current and prospective workforce in order to correct the mismatch between skill demand and supply. Entitled “Breaking New Ground: Building a National Workforce Skills Credentialing System,” the report provides a framework for discussion among educators, employers, workforce development officials and other key stakeholders. In the report, ACT states that community colleges are uniquely positioned to play a central role in fulfilling the training, education, guidance, assessment and certification functions required to sustain a national workforce credentialing system. Community colleges in particular touch many of the individuals who are restarting their educational journey in search of a degree or certificate; as such, community colleges will be the linchpins of the national workforce credentialing system.

KeyTrain curriculum, WorkKeys assessments and the National Career Readiness Certificate are components of the ACT Work Readiness System, a series of integrated workplace tools that provides unparalleled, comprehensive, evidence-based solutions to help individuals, businesses, the public workforce system and educators meet the rapidly evolving workforce needs of our new economy.

Learn more about ACT’s workforce solutions.