Confronting the Skills Crisis And Workforce
Challenges of the New World Economy


Volume 3, Number 5, November 2009

Please submit articles and news items to the NOCC office for inclusion in future newsletters and on the CRCC web site.

Previous NOCC newsletters are available at the NOCC web site.

In this issue:

  • Conference News
  • Workforce Development News
  • CRC Consortium News


  • State Workforce Development Partnership Symposium, Myrtle Beach, SC, January 25-27, 2010, Marriott Resort & Spa at Grand Dunes is a major training event for SC workforce development partners.
  • PA Business Education Conference news is available at



  • Competency assessments have long been a useful tool for HR professionals but they are also invaluable to career seekers and employees seeking professional development. Going beyond the basic knowledge, skills, and abilities that educators and trainers focus on, competency assessment also includes an analysis of values and behaviors. The benefits to individuals as well as organizations is well covered in an article by Selena Rezvani in the October issue of the NCDA's Career Convergence.
  • "Workforce centers across the nation are experiencing a significant increase in the number of job seekers they serve. Just in the last year, various Colorado workforce centers have seen numbers go up by as much as 68%. With the increased number of job seekers, job openings from businesses have slowed. In a down turned economy, it is more important than ever to create outreach programs to local businesses.

    However, negative perception issues of workforce centers still linger in many business communities. Businesses, large and small, are still uncertain about the services workforce centers offer and they may intentionally avoid any engagement with their local centers. Perception may be that workforce centers can't provide the "qualified" staff businesses are looking for or the idea of an abundance of government hoops and paper work. Maybe businesses assume "Big Brother" will be watching if they participate. In addition, many businesses still believe the only job seekers the workforce centers help are those with barriers to employment such as a criminal background".

    Read the entire article on this timely and thought-provoking topic.

  • On October 22, in what was billed as a major speech on teacher education, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan reiterated concerns about the quality of the schools that produce a majority of the nation’s teachers.
    “America’s university-based teacher-preparation programs need revolutionary change—not evolutionary tinkering,” he said. “But I am absolutely optimistic that, despite the obstacles to reform, the seeds of real change have been planted and will bear fruit.”
    Such changes should include a stronger preservice fieldwork component, a focus on subject-matter competency and classroom-management techniques, and state action to gauge the success of teacher college graduates in classrooms, Mr. Duncan said.
    He highlighted recent grants to bolster teacher “residency” programs and criteria in the $4 billion Race to the Top program that would help states boost teacher-training accountability. And in the only new measure announced, he said that the Obama administration would try to improve university-based preparation programs when the Elementary and Secondary Education Act comes up for renewal. The speech drew heavily from a controversial 3-year-old report written by Arthur E. Levine, a former head of Teachers College and now the president of the New York City-based Woodrow Wilson Foundation. ("Prominent Teacher-Educator Assails Field, Suggests New Accrediting Body in Report," Sept. 20, 2006.). (Reprinted from Education Week (online), October 23, 2009)
  • Fourth grade math scores stagnated for the first time in two decades on a prominent nationwide test, prompting calls for new efforts to improve teacher content knowledge and stirring discussion of the potential benefits of setting more-uniform academic standards across states. The results on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, released last week, marked the first time since 1990 that math scores at the elementary school level did not rise.
    Scores among 8th graders on NAEP, sometimes referred to as “the nation’s report card,” continued to climb, as they have consistently over the past 20 years.
    Since 1990, students’ NAEP performance in 4th and 8th grade math has been a story of steady, if slow, progress. Policymakers have been more puzzled and concerned by the leveling-off that occurs among high school students, whose scores on a separate NAEP, designed to measure long-term trends, have been nearly unchanged since the late 1970s.

    Yet the latest results show that 4th graders’ scores were the same in 2009 as they were in 2007. By comparison, those scores jumped from 2000 to 2003, and rose by at least 2 points in the two testing cycles prior to the current one. At an event where the scores were officially released, David Driscoll, the chairman of the National Assessment Governing Board, which sets policy for NAEP, drew a connection between the 4th grade scores and many elementary teachers’ shaky knowledge of math content. Mr. Driscoll, a former Massachusetts commissioner of education, backed up his argument by pointing to NAEP data showing that 8th graders taught by teachers with undergraduate math majors scored 9 points better on average than those who were not.
    He noted that Massachusetts has revamped its testing requirements for teachers seeking certification to mandate that they receive a separate passing score in math, as opposed to simply achieving an overall passing score across subjects.
    “Strong content knowledge needs attention,” Mr. Driscoll said. Effective elementary and middle-grades math educators, he added, “provide the building blocks for mathematics.”
    (Reprinted from Education Week (online), October 23, 2009)
  • A new term has arisen in the field of workforce development--the working worried. It refers to those who have not been laid off but who hold their breath every day, hoping that it doesn't happen to them. Similar terms such as "the nervously employed' and "those suffering from recession rumination" are also being used to describe these survivors. While people who are still working may not be in the forefront of your mind, try to show compassion and avoid the following tendencies: refrain from counseling that everything will soon get back to "normal"; curb your tendency to remind these people how lucky they are. Caitlin Willams has additional sound advice for career couselors and others in her article The Working Worried--How Career Development Practitioners Can Help".


  • Things are going well in Colorado. 1400 CRCs have been issued across the state since October 1, and CRC promotional activities are being planned by the Governor's office.
  • Caren Swales reports from Golden, CO that the Jefferson County Workforce Center has issued over 175 CRCs in the past 8 months and in addition, they have been busy proctoring additional WorkKeys assessments at the request of local employers. Increasingly, employers are asking for the Listening and Fit assessments. Apparently, there is considerable interest in the Performance, Talent, and Fit assessments and the 120 lessons in the Career Ready 101 tool.
  • News from MI is that, although the manufacturing sector is extremely depressed, employers there also continue to be demanding soft skill training and assessment, and they are interested in the ACT offerings. Unfortunately, they want this all to be completed before hiring. There is no funding or will to do any training once hiring has occurred.
  • On October 16, after a very short period of deployment in WY, the Governor's Office, in partnership with the Department of Workforce Services celebrated the issuance of the 1,000th Career Readiness Certificate and its recipient, Tosha Cate of Rock Springs.

    " I am extremely proud of the way our partners around the state - from the community college system, the Department of Education, the Governor's office, our local workforce centers, the Department of Corrections - everyone has just come together to make this credential possible for our jobseekers in Wyoming," said Joan Evans, Director of the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services.

    " The next phase of this initiative will be to further educate employers on the value of hiring jobseekers that possess this credential and the ability to demonstrate their foundational work readiness skills," Evans said.

    Pat Brown, Center Supervisor for Rock Springs Workforce Center applauded the recipient of this special certificate. " We are really pleased with the recognition of Tosha as the 1,000th recipient of Wyoming's Career Readiness Certificate. She is truly a remarkable young mom who is taking positive steps to acquire the necessary job specific skills to secure a career with a self-sufficient wage for her and her family so she can continue to improve her life," said Brown. "Obtaining the Career Readiness Certificate has been part of that pathway for her and we want to congratulate her," Brown said. Brown went on to recognize the positive partnership the center has shared with the local college. "We want to congratulate and thank Western Wyoming Community College as an enthusiastic, 'can-do' partner in this Career Readiness Initiative. Their willingness to handle the details of administering the WorkKeys?® Assessment, to complete data transfer, and to accommodate the needs of our workforce, our businesses and our industry has just been invaluable to success of the entire initiative."

    In WY, the Career Readiness Certification Initiative is a joint partnership between the following entities: The Governor's Office, Wyoming Community Colleges, Wyoming Department of Education, Wyoming Department of Corrections and the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services.

  • From Oregon comes news of a great start on the statewide CRC initiative. 830 certificates have already been issued.
  • West Virginia also has made a great start. Gov. Joe Manchin III has issued 10, 306 CRCs since last October, with an 85% cetification rate among job seekers. Of this total, 5787 certificates (1104, Bronze, 3471 Silver, and 1212 Gold) have been issued through the statewide program. The remaining 4519 CRCs have been awarded in high schools and career/technical schools across the state. The statewide effort has been supported financially by the Benedum Foundation. Workforce West Virginia now has three authorized WorkKeys profilers who are offering profiling services to employers across the state. Keytrain training is being offered through a partnership between Workforce West Virginia and the WV Department of Education.
  • In October 2009, Wisconsin Job Service (part of the Department of Workforce Development) launched a pilot program to Unemployment Insurance (UI) claimants who attend Re-employment Services (RES) sessions. In order to qualify to take each of the WorkKeys Assessments, participants are required to earn 80% or higher on KeyTrain level 3. Job Service has also initiated an innovative statewide call center to schedule customers into WorkKeys assessments. Using ARRA funds, Job Service is covering the costs for interested RES participants to take each assessment up to two times. Job Service is also working on a cost recovery model to open WorkKeys and the CRC to Job Center partners, the general public, and employers.
  • After more than two years of issuing more than 25,000 state CRCs, Tennessee is now issuing NCRCs. No word on exact numbers or on whether there has been resulting confusion among employers and job seekers. The Department of Labor has formed a partnership with Technology Centers so the CRC will now be offered in every Career Center and Technology Center in the state.
  • Here is the current CRC Top 10 list of states
        • South Carolina 105, 115
        • Georgia 79,170
        • Michigan 74,982
        • Indiana 66,023
        • Florida 49,500
        • Ohio 37,000
        • North Carolina 35, 836
        • Oklahoma 29,439
        • (Tennessee >25,000)
        • Virginia 23,397
        • Alabama 21,907


  • Northeast Lakeview College in TX is working on a grant extension that will allow them to continue their work on deployment of the CRC. At this early stage, Melissa Weathersby reports 53 completions--15 Gold, 32 Silver, and 6 Bronze.
  • Send updated CRC numbers and other state news to the NOCC to ensure that the web site (and the Top 10 list!) are current.
  • If you have not yet done so, please download the NOCC logo to your state web site and create a link to the site. Please also add a link to the CRC Consortium site ( Thank you.

NOCC Thought For The Day . . .

“A successful person is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at them.”

David Brinkley

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© NOCC, November, 2009