ACTE November/December2011 : Page 27

and supported by governors), many more beginning the deployment process, and others that were working on the initiative. In some states, such as North Carolina, the CRC effort was led by the commu-nity college system, while in others, state or local Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs) led the way. In one or two cases, educators in universities and high school systems took the initiative. In every case, the CRC was and is predicated on com-munity partnerships as required by the Workforce Investment Act. The rise of a Skill crisis In the early days of the CRC, the U.S. and world economies were stable and generally doing well. However, among workforce development professionals and employers there was an emerging understanding of a developing skill crisis. This looming crisis was fueled by the rapid growth in education and economic development in India and China, and by the continued decline in the academic performance of students in the West. Despite these concerns, apart from the worker shortage in health care, most un-employed adults in the United States were able to find jobs, eventually—even if those jobs were outside their usual fields. There was also funding for retraining, even though some of that money was wasted when older workers, in particular, were placed into college programs that were unnecessary, overwhelming or ineffective. As the pace of globalization increased rapidly, technological advances allowed employers to take business processes to places where there were skilled workers, often overseas. At the same time, many employers in the United States com-pensated for a lack of skilled workers by “outsourcing” jobs to machines in their plants here at home. The benefits of the crc Since 2008, with severe competition for jobs in the United States, the CRC has gained support among employers and www.acteonline.org job seekers as an efficient, inexpensive and reliable credential that quickly certifies trainability and employability. The certificate is especially valuable for dislocated workers who often do not have even a high school diploma. After years on the job, these workers have skills that are quickly and easily documented with WorkKeys assessments, and this makes a career change less painful as workers receive only the training they need for new positions. In many states, employers are using the CRC as a hiring filter when working with local WIB offices. CRC holders are often offered interviews ahead of those without it, and employers are sav-ing time and money by interviewing only applicants in whom they have confidence. It is notable too that the governors of Georgia and Oklahoma are using the number of CRCs held by current and available workers as two of the criteria for counties and cities in their states to be cer-tified as WorkReady Communities. (You can visit www.gaworkready.com and www.okcareertech.org/cac/work -keys for more information.) During 2010, in North Carolina, there was a 38 percent increase in the number of CRCs issued; approximately 150 high schools are providing students the oppor-tunity to earn a CRC, and the certificate is integrated into all community college areas, both as a course prerequisite and as an exit credential. Recent reports from the state indicate that more than 430 employers currently use the CRC in their hiring processes, and they testify to the effectiveness of the credential; turnover rates have decreased, and on-the-job-training is shorter and more effective when a new worker has a CRC. There has also been increased diversity within the list of employers using the CRC, and to date, more than 88,000 certificates have been issued statewide. Since the program was fully imple-mented in July 2008 in Arkansas, more than 2,600 employers have hired job seekers with the CRC, and more than Figure 1 Leadership Skills Advanced Occupational Skills Occupational Skills Foundational Technical Skills Career Readiness Certificate (CRC) The CRC is the foundation for a lifetime of career skill development and stackable credentials. 30,000 certificates have been issued. The program is available in 76 high schools, and the number of students receiving the CRC is being used as one indicator of quality for Secondary and Technical Edu-cation Programs monitored and approved by the Department of Career Education. Kellie Blake, the HR manager at Anchor Packaging, Inc., has said: “Our business is becoming more and more complex with new technology and customer standards certifications. As a result, the skill level required of employees has increased. The CRC program has given us a way to verify applicants have the prerequisite skills to be successful on the job in a rela-tively short period of time.” In Indiana, the CRC has been used as an exit credential for high school stu-dents for several years. In Alaska, since 2010 all 11th-and 12th-graders have been required to take the three CRC assessments, so many students there have received the certificate. In Oregon, where the program was launched officially in January 2011, 312 employers have signed letters of intent to use the CRC in their hiring practices, and more than 9,500 certificates have been issued. Since 2005, Virginia has been using the CRC as the foundation for stack-able credentials. With the general title of CRC+, these certificates build on N ovember/december 2011 Techniques 27

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