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


Volume 3, Number 1, March 2010

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


  • The Southeastern WorkKeys Conference is on hiatus for 2010
  • National Association of Workforce Boards, Preparing a Competitive US Workforce--Reflection, Reinvestment, Recovery, March 6-9, 2010, Renaissance on Capitol Hill, Washington DC
  • NSTA's National Conference on Science Education, Philadelphia, PA March 18-21, 2010
  • Innovations Conference 2010, League for Innovation, Baltimore, MD, March 28-31
  • National Workforce Development Conference (formerly the National WorkKeys Conference), Philadelphia, April 27-30, 2010


  • Recently, Dr. Brent Knight, President at Lansing Community College received national attention for his announcement of his Get a Skill, Get a Job--or Get your Money Back initiative. Participants accepted into the program will participate in a rigorous training program lasting from 4-8 weeks (depending on the specific program), and culminating in a proficiency exam. If they complete the program successfully, they will receive a certificate/portfolio verifying their competencies. If those who complete the program are unable to secure employment within 12 months, LCC will refund their cost. The initiative is under development in the areas of Pharmacy Technician, Customer Service Call Center Workers, Certified Qualtiy Inspectors, and Home Technology Integration Technicians.
  • As we struggle to regain our footing after a disastrous year that has shaken our national confidence, it is worth looking back just a little for recommendations that may have been overlooked and that now take on a new imperative. In his blog, MeederMindWorks, Hans Meeder suggests that it is now crucial that workforce development professionals, educators, and others reconsider the innovation eco-economy. He maintains that U.S. strength in eco-systems factors are "why we have maintained our strong competitive position for so long, in spite of our education shortcomings". Meeder highlights a major factor in the innovation eco-system, America’s talent supply, and he takes us back to the major 2007 report, Rising Above The Gathering Storm.

    The authors of the report state that “Because other nations have, and probably will continue to have, the competitive advantage of a low wage structure, the United States must compete by optimizing its knowledge-based resources, particularly in science and technology, and by sustaining the most fertile environment for new and revitalized industries and the well-paying jobs they bring.” Most of us would agree that we "need a new workforce that is literate in technology and engineering (design) and able to apply mathematical reasoning and scientific knowledge to solving problems and creating new goods, services and processes".

  • In the July-August 2009 edition of Harvard Business Review, Gary Pisano and Willy Shih published Restoring American Competitiveness in which they explained the important concept of the Industrial Commons. You can read the beginning of the article online and purchase a reprint if you care to.

    The term “Industrial Commons” refers to a foundation of knowledge and capabilities (technical, design and operational) that is shared within an industry sector, such as “R&D know-how, advanced process development and engineering skills, and manufacturing competencies related to a specific technology.” Pisana and Shih point out that during the last couple of decades, U.S. firms have outsourced bits and pieces of various manufacturing and engineering sectors to low-cost developing economies.Then came "tipping points" when the full design and manufacturing capability (the "industrial commons") was lost from the U.S. and the commons essentially emigrated. The authors warn that once an industrial commons is lost, it is nearly impossible to retrieve.

  • Pisano and Shih demonstrate this concept by referring to Amazon’s Kindle 2 that cannot be made in the U.S. because "its flex circuit connector is made in China; its electrophoretic display is made in Taiwan; its highly polished injection-molded case is made in China; its wireless card is made in South Korea; its lithium polymer battery is made in China, and its controller board is made in China". The specialized expertise to manufacture these parts has migrated out of the U.S.

  • Reprinted from The Chronicle of Higher Education, 2/22.2010:-

    The U.S. education secretary, Arne Duncan, repeated his call on Friday for universities to create better programs to prepare teachers and principals in a speech to a teachers-college organization that he also used to respond to concerns about President Obama's proposed budget.

    Echoing comments he made at teachers' colleges last fall, Mr. Duncan said at the annual meeting of the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education, in Atlanta, that many teacher-preparation programs at universities were outdated and needed to undergo "transformational change" to emphasize teacher quality, including knowledge of subject matter.

    Mr. Obama's proposed budget for the 2011 fiscal year, which starts on October 1, would increase funds for teacher training but would do so in part by placing teachers' colleges in direct competition for money, for the first time, with alternative-certification programs like Teach for America.

    "I appreciate that shifting toward competitive funding with multiple players can create legitimate concerns," Mr. Duncan said. "To put it in the simplest terms, we believe teacher-preparation programs should be focused on results." Programs that have a record of preparing successful teachers, or a plan to begin tracking graduates to make sure they succeed, will get the most money, he said.

    He acknowledged that the money, in many cases, would not be sufficient in a difficult economic climate.



  • We welcome South Dakota (the 49th. state!) into the Consortium as it has undertaken statewide CRC deployment. The state contact is Andrew Szilvasi in the Division of Workforce Services at the SD Department of Labor.
  • The US Department of Education recently provisionally approved WorkKeys assessments in Reading for Information and Applied Mathematics for use in the National Reporting System for Adult Education. This means that these assessments may be used for three years only. The objection to approving them for continued use is the fact that WorkKeys assessments are NOT normed tests, as are the TABE, CASAS, and others.
  • Here is the latest Top 10 list for the number of Career Readiness Certificates issued:

    South Carolina 113,688
    Georgia 100,542
    Michigan 74,982
    Indiana 66,023
    Florida 49,500
    North Carolina 40,439
    Ohio 37,000
    Oklahoma 35,920
    Alabama 24,265
    Virginia 24,104

  • McGraw-Hill has produced three texts that should be of interest to anyone who is preparing students for the Applied Mathematics, Reading for Information, and Locating Information assessments. The books are aligned with WorkKeys levels and contain a wealth of practice exercises. Because many students either do not have access to computers or high speed internet connections, and also because many older adults are either not computer literate or find it difficult to learn from a computer, it is important to have alternatives to on-line training.
  • The NOCC is always anxious to receive your Certificate news. Keeping the CRC web site current is easy if a state has a web site that includes numbers in a database but if not, the NOCC must rely on information sent in by local and state representatives. Please forward updates and any information you would like included to the NOCC office.


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© NOCC, March 2010