National CWRC symposium heads to Missouri

savethedatecwrcoct2014ACT’s Work Ready Communities initiative selected Missouri for the second annual Best Practices Symposium. Affording Communities a Competitive Advantage is the theme for the conference, slated for October 7th and 8th at Crown Plaza Hotel in Downtown St. Louis.

Register Now

ACT launched the symposium to inform and educate participants on building common frameworks that link, align and match their workforce development efforts. Don’t miss the opportunity to learn more about how successful ACT WRC states and counties are leveraging the WorkKeys System and NCRC to build an economic development strategy.

Who Should Attend?

  • Economic developers
  • Business and industry leaders
  • Chamber of Commerce leaders
  • State, county and local policy makers
  • Educators
  • Workforce development professionals

Registration is now open. For more information, contact

KC Fed Reserve to host workforce forum

The Federal Reserve Bank out of Kansas City is hosting four regional forum events targeted to workforce leaders. In addition to events planned for Omaha, Oklahoma City, and Denver, the Kansas City event is set for July 29th from 11:30 to 1:30.

According to the Federal Reserve Bank, this forum will present community leaders with information on employment and workforce development issues affecting low- and moderate-income workers. The Federal Reserve’s new research publication on the low- and moderate-income workforce will be presented along with an economic forecast for the region. Other Federal Reserve resources and initiatives that support workforce development goals will be discussed.

11:30 to Noon – Registration and Lunch Buffet

Noon to 12:10 – Welcome and Overview

12:10 to 12:45 – LMI Labor Markets and Regional Economic Forecast

12:45 to 1:00 – Workforce Development Resources and Tools

1:00 to 1:30 – Discussion of Local Workforce Issues

1:30 – Adjourn

This information will provide workforce professionals, community and economic development leaders and employers tools to support their organization’s mission. The forum is targeted to Leaders and staff of workforce investment boards, community and economic development organizations, community colleges, workforce readiness and employment programs, chambers of commerce, and employers. The forum is free though reservations are required. The forum is slated for the bank’s KC headquarters at 1 Memorial Drive Kansas City, MO.  RSVP to Annette Phillips by email.

Reauthorization takes next step forward

Running eleven years past its sunset, reauthorization take a major step forward Wednesday with Senate passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).  Hailed as bipartisan, bicameral legislation to reauthorize the WIA, the new WIOA gained strong bipartisan support with 95-3 passage. Both Missouri Senators, Blunt and McCaskill, voted in favor. The next step in the journey is back to the House of Representatives where WIOA may hit the House floor after the Fourth of July recess.

Current resources on WIOA to learn more


NCRC/Workkeys approved by state education officials

Following several months of advocacy efforts by supporters of the National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) in Missouri, the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) announced Tuesday the official approval for the NCRC as an official measure of college and career readiness. The ACT Workkeys assessment now joins the list of other testing instruments that schools can use to gauge proficiency as required in the Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP). With the inclusion of Workkeys in MSIP, school districts can better leverage local resources together in preparing students for the workforce, engaging in Certified Work Ready Communities (CWRC), and aid the accreditation pursuits required in state regulation.

“One of our primary goals is to make sure students graduate ready to succeed in college and career,” said Dennis Cooper, assistant commissioner in the Office of Quality Schools in DESE’s announcement. “Including the use of the WorkKeys® assessment as an option for districts and charter schools helps us do that, and it gives students, parents and teachers another way to see how well students are learning.”

Current instruments used in MSIP (ACT, Compass, ASVAB, etc.) offer some value, but none are as widely-praised by employers and other advocates as the NCRC. As of March 31st, more than 1,300 employers in Missouri publicly endorsed the NCRC. Of Missouri’s 114 counties, 39 are active in the Certified Work Ready Communities framework with strong participation by local school districts in each county’s CWRC leadership.

Senate Bill 701 included a provision supporting career readiness credentials as an amendment that was agreed and passed May 1st.

The department of elementary and secondary education shall permit student scores, that are from a nationally recognized examination that demonstrates achievement of workplace employability skills, to count towards credit for college and career readiness standards on the Missouri school improvement program or any subsequent school accreditation or improvement program.

DESE published an administrative memo to local school districts with guidance on the weighting of NCRC scores and how the scores are valued with other assessments currently permitted in the MSIP framework.

Pilot seeks to expand competency based learning in Missouri colleges

Businessman-create-idea-system-for-business-conceptCouncil for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) Competency Based Education (CBE) Jumpstart program tapped the Missouri Community College Association (MCCA) and the Missouri Department of Higher Education (MDHE) as one of 14 partners nationwide. According to a press release by MDHE, the program aims to increase completion rates at the state’s two- and four-year colleges and universities. CBE Jumpstart focuses on competency-based education and credit for prior learning, which can reduce the amount of time required to earn a degree. The two Missouri agencies will be working collaboratively with higher education institutions in the state to implement the program.

Competency-based education allows students to learn at their own pace based on their mastery of the knowledge and skills needed for a degree. Credit for prior learning programs award college credit based on students’ knowledge and skills, including experience acquired during military service.

The Jumpstart Program will provide training for staff working to establish the knowledge and skill levels students must demonstrate to earn a degree. The work includes the development of new ways to assess student learning at the college level.

Colleges and universities in Missouri are in the early stages of developing competency-based education programs. The programs focus on adult and nontraditional students, including veterans, who have gained knowledge and skills through prior employment and military service. Students demonstrate their learning through a variety of assessments and often can move on to advanced courses more rapidly as they work toward a degree.

Competency-based education is one way Missouri can help students complete a postsecondary degree and create the educated workforce we need,” said David Russell, commissioner of higher education. “By 2018, nearly 60 percent of the jobs in our state will require a two- or four-year degree or professional certificate.”

Currently, students participating in two programs at Missouri community colleges – MoHealthWINs and MoManufacturing WINs – can earn college credit through competency-based education and credit for prior learning. The Jumpstart Program will provide further support for the MoWINs programs, which offer low-cost training for high-demand health care and manufacturing industries.

“The Jumpstart training will provide an excellent opportunity to ensure that the work our community colleges are doing in MoHealthWINs and MoManufacturingWINs has a lasting impact,” said Zora Mulligan, director of the Missouri Community College Association.

Missouri will begin the Jumpstart Program training this fall.

More Info

Missouri NCRC Employer Summit set for May 22nd

MO-CWRCA special summit May 22nd seeks to bring together supporting employers across the Show-Me State that endorse the National Career Readiness Certificate and Missouri Certified Work Ready Communities. The Employer Summit helps equip Missouri firms to hire the right people for the job, save dollars in training, and increase productivity.

The 10:00 to 2:00 summit event showcases employers and their experiences with WorkKeys, NCRC, and Job Profiling. The Governors Office Building at 200 Madison in Jefferson City is the location for the summit. Supporting employers will also receive an invitation for a special reception at the Governors Mansion on the 22nd.

Firms not already registered as a supporting employer may do so easily online. More information on Missouri’s CWRC initiative may visit

Employer support grows rapidly for NCRC

Team Of Businesspeople In Meeting Discussing Project 600x400More than 1,200 Missouri employers are part of a growing list that tops 3,600 nationally for support of the National Career Readiness Certificate. The NCRC helps match employees to jobs based on verified skill levels. The support also helps local economies prosper through Certified Work Ready Communities (CWRC).

CWRC participating states, regions and counties offer a suite of ACT Work Keys assessments and the NCRC that measure an individual’s foundational workplace skills such as math, reading, information and locating skills required for a majority of today’s jobs. The NCRC complements such traditional credentials as high school diplomas, community college degrees, and certificates of technical proficiency. Academic credentials mark the fulfillment of an individual’s classroom learning experiences. The NCRC relies on standardized assessments and confirms an individual’s competence in a specific set of workplace skills.

Participation in Certified Work Ready Communities benefits not just one company, but an entire community. CWRC is helping job seekers locally understand what skills employers are looking for, and it helps local educators prepare students for success. And – they need employers to value their earning an NCRC!

Supporting a stronger workforce is easy. Recognize the NCRC when applicants present one. Recommend the NCRC for applicants and/or existing employees

Employers can also indicate the company’s support of the community’s certification effort on the national CWRC website. Information on external review of validity of ACT’s WorkKeys may be found here. This handbook to help get started using the ACT National Career Readiness Certificate.

Employers can see the power of the NCRC at work through numerous case studies published by ACT.  One of the most popular case studies features Missouri’s own Able Manufacturing and Assembly.  The Able case study and others are indexed online for easy review.

PBS NewsHour examines NCRC

logo-pbs-newshourWednesday’s PBS NewHour aired an extended featured on the National Career Readiness and the NCRC’s role in preparing students for the workforce. For American industry, finding employees who have all the requisite skills is a big challenge, and hiring people who don’t stack up can cost businesses a great deal of money. Special correspondent John Tulenko from Learning Matters reports on a certification test that aims to boost U.S. students’ workforce readiness through WorkKeys and the NCRC.



Raising the bar together

A community’s workforce is of fundamental importance for economic growth. To meet the needs of today’s companies, and to sufficiently educate workers for the demands of the knowledge economy, economic development organizations must collaborate with workforce development organizations and other stakeholders, including their partners in business and education. [Read more…]

Transitioning skills in disaster-impacted communities

RYE-2013-Webinar-Logo-125-x-125-VertThe International Economic Development Council plans to showcase Missouri’s experience in disaster recovery in a webinar November 20th. This virtual event provides a how-to introduction on developing workforce training programs in disaster-impacted communities.

A major disaster can disrupt market flows and impact local businesses in ways beyond the imagination. Either temporary business closures or permanent business relocations can cause major redundancies for the local workforce as well as discourage new talent from moving into the impacted communities. The situation can also exacerbate difficulties faced by disadvantaged populations.

This webinar will explore how economic developers can work with workforce development organizations to develop and implement new training programs that are based on changing market realities caused by the event. Learn about the process to identify skills to address business needs that help to strengthen the region’s recovery and growth prospects. Speakers will present case examples from Joplin, Missouri following their EF-5 tornado and Katrina- impacted communities.

Attendees will learn:

  • How to leverage additional federal funds to support workforce systems already in place
  • About best practices to engage private employers in your workforce training efforts
  • Strategies to tie disaster recovery workforce initiatives to growing industrial sectors/clusters within your region.

Presenters include Jasen Jones with the Southwest MO WIB and Barbara Johnson, one of the leaders in the Katrina recovery effort.  More information on the webinar and how to participate may be found online at