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


Volume 5, Number 2, August 2012

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/Resources site.

In this issue:

  • Conference News
  • Workforce Development and Education News
  • CRC Consortium News


  • 2013 Careers Conference, University of Wisconsin-Madison Center on Education and Work, January 28-30, The Concourse Hotel, Madison.


  • The American Council 0n Education/Coalition for International Education (ACE/CIE) is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Higher Education Act–Title VI and Fulbright-Hays programs. These programs were created by the federal government in 1958 and 1961, respectively, and they marked the beginning of a major U.S. commitment to devote new attention to the rest of the world.

    Over the decades, this federal government–higher education partnership has built a foundation for internationalizing the U.S. education system, an imperative that has now become a vital part of our preparation of current and future students and employees. Click here to watch videos on what the programs are about and to learn about some outstanding results.

  • National STEM Master Teacher Corps
    On July 17, the Obama Administration announced a plan to create a national Science, Math, Technology, and Engineering (STEM) Master Teacher Corps. With $100m in start-up funding from the federal Teacher Incentive Fund, the program will begin in 50 locations across the country, each with 50 STEM educators. Pending Congressional approval of additional funding, the Administration believes the program can expand over the next four years to include 10,000 STEM teachers. STEM master teachers would make a multiyear commitment to the STEM master teacher corps and would receive an annual stipend.

    Read the White House press release on the STEM Master Teacher Corps and the Administration's other initiatives in STEM education.

  • It seems that, at last, the role of community colleges in higher education/workforce preparation is showing up more frequently in media discussions. Long overlooked for its uniqueness and value, the American community college (a unique invention with the dual mission of transfering students to university programs, and skills development for the less academically focused) is now being championed and celebrated. However, controversy and confusion are also common in these discussions.

    Defining Community Colleges Down (Richard Kahlenburg, Innovations--The Chronicle of Higher Education 7/10/12) is a response to the article Filling The Skills Gap in the New York Times (Joe Nocera, 7/2/12) in which Nocera refers to community colleges preparing workers for "middle skill jobs rather than "preparing them for university degrees". Given the enthusiasm with which employers snap up graduates (or even pre-graduates) from high-tech training programs and their bemoaning the need for more such programs in the community colleges, it seems that there is still confusion about how valuable a community college certificate or degree is. And there also appears to be ignorance of the great start to a university education that community colleges provide for tens of thousands of low-income students and career-changng adults who otherwise would not have access.

    There is clearly an awareness/marketing issue here that must be addressed quickly and thoroughly by educators before the media becomes entrenched in its misunderstanding.

  • Year-Up is a program that is getting quite a lot of exposure lately. In fact, it was a visit from Gerald Chertavian, the creator of the program that sparked the Joe Nocera article mentioned above. Year-Up is a nonprofit organization founded in 2000 with the mission to "close the Opportunity Divide by providing urban young adults with the skills, experience, and support that will empower them to reach their potential through professional careers and higher education."
  • Earlier this year, the New York Times presented Schools Try to Match the Jobless with 3.4 million Jobs, (Shannon Jensen, 2/29/12). Featured in the article are Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA), Miami Dade College, NYU, Rutgers University. and Sinclair Community College in OH, each of which offers creative programs to assist often well-qualified adults to get into the workforce in well-paid, highly-skilled careers. Many schools (like NOVA) are taking new and exciting approaches to adult education through continuing education programs. With quotes from employers, college presidents, and President Obama, this article is a useful one to keep on hand to aid in the marketing of the value of your programs.
  • Molly Corbett Broad, President, American Council on Education, recently asserted her personal belief in the value of the personal and societal benefits of higher education, despite rising costs (Putting College Costs into Context, 4/16/2012). With this recent paper, the Council provides us with a solid baseline of information that we can use as we struggle to solve the problem of rising costs of higher education. Data show that, when financial aid is factored in, for most Americans, higher education is affordable. However, Dr. Broad also states that "affordable" does not mean inexpensive. A review of rising tuition costs alone may be misleading because the financial landsape for college administrators includes many factors that the media gloss over. For example, one of the rising costs involves hiring well-qualified, in-demand professionals to teach cutting edge courses. It is difficult for unversities to compete for these people against the private sector. Here is a sample of the detailed information included in the paper:

    As published tuition prices rose, financial aid from institutional and federal sources also increased. Therefore, the net tuition actually paid by students did not increase as rapidly as the published tuition.
    • Over the five years from 2006–07 to 2011–12, published tuition for public, four year colleges increased by 22 percent (or $1,800), community colleges by 12 percent ($448), and private, nonprofit four-year colleges by 14 percent ($3,744), adjusted for inflation.
    • Over this period, after taking into account grants and education tax benefits, the estimated average net tuition (adjusted for inflation) decreased at community colleges and private, nonprofit four-year colleges by $840 and $550, respectively.

  • The average net tuition increased by just $170 at public, four-year campuses after inflation, compared with the $1,800 increase in published tuition.

  • A companion paper, The Anatomy of College Tuition (ACE, 4/16/2012) offers an even more detailed look at this issue.
  • "The education system has become culturally cohesive, rewarding and encouraging a certain sort of person: one who is nurturing, collaborative, disciplined, neat, studious, industrious and ambitious. . . People who don't fit this cultural ideal respond by disengaging and rebelling." So writes David Brooks (Boy Crisis in Education, NY Times, 7/7/2012) who goes on to point out that "many of the people who don't fit in are boys." For several decades, data have been mounting to support this statement and now by 12th grade, male reading test scores are far below female scores, 11th grade boys are writing at at the same level as 8th grade girls, and the math/science gap that used to favor boys is now almost completely gone. Men make up just 40% of college students and over the last decade, 2 million fewer men have graduated from college than women. And this is not just an American problem. All 35 member nations of the OECD report that boys are falling behind.
  • Equity and the Community Colleges (The Chronicle of Higher Education, 7/2/2012). In this article, Thomas R. Bailey supports community colleges as essential to the solution of making higher education accessible to everyone, thereby reducing inequities between low-income students and others. He notes that most four-year institutions are becoming even more selective and are unlikely to open their doors to all-comers, and so, given that as college degrees become a prerequisite for jobs that pay a living wage, "community colleges fill an ever more crucial role in our economy." While currently fewer than two-fifths of the students who start in community colleges go on to complete a degree or certificate within 6 years, Bailey believes that with enough improvement in their overall performance, community colleges can become an attractive alternative for upper-income students.
  • Timed Tests and the Development of Math Anxiety (Education Week, 7/3/2012) is a commentary by Jo Boaler, a professor of mathematics at Stanford University and the author of several books on math education. In it, the author postulates that based on research that indicates that timed tests are "the direct cause of the early onset of math anxiety", we should take a look at the impact of how this type of testing "transforms children's brains." The author also states that schools in the US have reduced the purpose of mathematics to "the ranking of children and their schools."
  • A recent study by Elisabeth Gareis, an assistant professor of communication at Baruch College in NY, indicates that one in three foreign students have no close American friends. Students from East Asia and particularly China report greater dissatisfaction than do other international students. The article International Friendship: Effects of Home and Host Region was published in the Journal of International and Intercultural Communication. Karin Fischer reports on the article in The Chronicle of Higher Education (June 14).
  • In The Great Sorting , Anthony Carnevale (The Chronicle of Higher Education, July 2012) points out that, while sorting by race, class, and sex begin for most students long before their college years, sorting continues in higher education in terms of what kind of college a student attends, whether they graduate, how much post-graduate education they receive, and what a student majors in--these are all decisions that make a difference to later earnings.


  • In addition to the three WK assessments used for the CRC, the NCRC Plus includes evaluations that rank individuals in the following soft skills categories:
  • Work Discipline: Productivity and dependability
    Teamwork: Tolerance, communication, and attitude
    Customer Service Orientation: Interpersonal skills and perseverance
    Managerial Potential: Persuasion, enthusiasm, and problem solving
The NCRC Plus ranks individuals with 1–4 stars in each of the categories listed above. Higher numbers of stars reflect personal characteristics that indicate stronger inclination for success. These rankings do NOT CERTIFY skills but they may be useful to potential employers. Individuals can earn the NCRC Plus by taking the WorkKeys Talent assessment.
  • In case the information would be useful to you, an additional column has been added to the CRC matrix on the Consortium web site reflecting the number of NCRC Plus awards issued by state. The numbers in the last column (in blue) are inlcuded in the other reported numbers of CRCs issued.
  • The latest TOP 10 list on the issuance of CRCs and NCRCs is as follows:
        1. GA (302,521)
        2. SC (167,920)
        3. MI (137,186)
        4. NC (120,394)
        5. FL (113,286)
        6. TN (87,528)
        7. OH (86,726)
        8. IN (83,050)
        9. OK (73,721)
        10. VA (46,398)


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© NOCC, August 2012