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


Volume 2, Number 11, October 24, 2008

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


In this issue:

  • Conference News
  • Workforce Development News
  • CRC Consortium News
  • Suggested Readings
  • ACTE Convention & Career Tech Expo, Charlotte, NC, December 4-6. Daniel Pink and William Daggett are featured speakers. Visit for more information
  • Michigan WorkKeys Conference, Good To Gold, November 19-20, Warren, MI.
  • National Workforce Association conference, Tampa, FL, November 29-December 2, 2008. Visit for more details.
  • Center on Education and Work Careers Conference: From Inspiration to Application, Madison, WI, January 27-28, 2009. Click here for more details.
  • 5th. Annual Southeastern WorkKeys Conference, February 4-6, 2009, Wyndham Jacksonville Riverwalk Hotel, Jacksonville, FL. The deadline for proposals is September 30, 2008. Visit for more details.


  • The news from Oklahoma just keeps getting better! Two cities and their associated counties were recently recognized as Certified Work Ready Communities.
Chickasha and Grady County were the first city and county in the state to achieve certified Work Ready status but Pryor and Mayes County were hard on their heels.
"Today and into the foreseeable future the key to economic development in Oklahoma is workforce recruitment, training, and certification," said Oklahoma Commerce Secretary Natalie Shirley. "Work Ready Community certification is another tool we have to focus efforts and prove results."
Oklahoma's Certified Work Ready Communities is an innovative program that encourages communities to put workforce at the front of their economic development agenda. It builds on the success of Oklahoma's Career Readiness Certificate (CRC) program, which assesses and certifies individual workers' skill sets and abilities.

Work Ready Communities elevates the certification to a geographical area. A certified "community" can be individual communities or counties, groups of contiguous cities and counties, or a regional partnership. However the community defines itself, certain criteria must be met. Certification is reviewed annually.

To be certified Work Ready, a community must meet the following requirements:
3% of its incumbent or existing workforce must have a gold, silver, or bronze CRC;
25% of its workforce not currently employed but looking for work must have a CRC;
The school system must graduate 82% of its high school seniors or 82% of its high school seniors must have a CRC.
Every state in the country is competing to attract industry and grow existing businesses. But it takes a skilled, available workforce to compete effectively.

"When communities are certified Work Ready, they gain a competitive advantage over non-certified communities because they can quantify a skilled workforce to an existing employer or a new business considering Oklahoma for a new location," said Norma Noble, Deputy Secretary of Workforce Development for Commerce.

  • In a recent issue of Education Week, survey results indicated that career-switchers could be an important and valuable source of new talent that could help to address the deficit of 1.5 million teachers in the next decade. However, potential teachers expressed concern over the poor salary and working conditions in schools. Also, a significant number of respondents said that policy-makers could do more to encourage them to teach by providing certification and training programs designed to help them to transition into and succeed in their new career. The potential teachers want these programs to be close to their homes, contain practice-teaching experiences with experienced teachers, coursework that builds on their professional skills and experience, and that provide mentoring opportunities during the first year of teaching. Many current alternative teacher-training programs are oriented toward young post-graduates rather than recruits with workforce experience. Overall, the survey indicated that what career-switchers are looking for is NOT short training programs but rather ones that provide strong preparation
  • It is becoming common to hear of large corporations going "green" and taking the lead in the sustainability discussion. This is clear evidence that the creativity and innovation that made the US a world leader during the 20th. century is still there and just needs to be harnessed. There's nothing like a crisis for spurring action, and our current dependence on foreign oil and rapidly depleting global energy resources is forcing companies like Wal-Mart to make changes through their suppliers. Recent reports indicate that major supplier Hewlett Packard is experiencing significant savings and reduced costs to the planet by eliminating "traditional" packaging materials for electronics shipped to Wal-Mart stores. "Sustainability" is fast becoming the new buzz-word as threats to our planet and existence are becoming obvious. It is significant that in Bentonville, AR, the corporate HQ of Wal-Mart, a new Global Business Development Center at North West Arkansas Community College will include a Sustainable Packaging Institute.
  • In Thrive: The Skills Imperative, a publication from the Council on Competitiveness, Joseph Stanislaw is quoted as noting that "We are at the very beginning of a global race to create dominant green economies." It is also worth noting that many of the "new" green skills required in the "race" are actually not new skills at all. They have simply been relabeled! When you consider that the skills needed to operate a turbine do not depend on whether wind or petroleum turns the blade, and that boiler maintenance does not change because solar power heats the water, we need to concentrate on the NUMBER of workers in these fields. It is the lack of workers that poses the greatest barrier to more sustainable energy. The average age of energy workers is 50, at least half of the country's utility workers are expected to retire in the next 10 years, and more than half the oil and gas workforce is expected to retire in the next 10 years at all skill levels from equipment operators to scientists and engineers. Despite an increase of nuclear engineering majors at colleges around the country from 500 in 1998 to 1800 in 2007, this number is still not enough to meet current needs. For more details, read The Energy-Competitiveness Relationship from the Council.
  • NOCC workforce development Pop-Quiz:

    Do you know the meaning of each of the following--affluenza, educonomy, an Americum, the Conceptual Age? (Answers at the end of the newsletter)

  • In the most recent copy of Enterprising Women, Marilyn Carlson Nelson, Chair of Carlson, the enormous global hospitality enterprise headquartered in Minneapolis, emphasizes that jobs in today's environment depend much more on brains than brawn. She recognizes that competition for talent can be fierce and that it is essential to begin with the end in mind. "Ask yourself what is the talent that is needed for this particular time in this particular organization. You start by considering your objectives." A significant practice at Carlson is the use of an annual Gallup poll to identify the engagement of their current workforce in the company and the strengths of supervisors within the company. Then they create an annual succession plan so that each leader in the company identifies who their successor could be and whether that person is ready now or will be in one or two years. Supervisors also point out developmental issues with employees and appropriate training is provided by the company. Needless to say, Carlson has been recognized as a "great place to work," and Marilyn Carlson Nelson has been named as Chair of the National Women's Business Council. The Women Presidents' Organization named her its woman entrepreneur of decade, and she was among the first group inducted into the Enterprising Women Hall of fame in 2003.
  • In the same issue of Enterprising Women, survey results show that 62% of all US employees find their work place stressful. Up to 90% of all primary healthcare visits are stress related, and workplace stress is estimated to cost the economy $1.1 trillion in lost production and $277 million in treatment costs for stress-related illnesses. Clearly, there is a need for more employers to consider wellness programs for their staff as part of their way of doing business.
  • The Fall 2008 issue of Literacy Connection from the Literacy Center of West Michigan has as its lead story news of a partnership between Grand Rapids Community College and the Literacy Center to provide classes to support Career Readiness Certification for ESL learners. Lacks Enterprises is using the Center's Customized Workplace English program to prepare ESL workers for the credential. Participants are excited that they now have a way of demonstrating their skills even though they may not speak perfect English. Many participants are so enthusiastic about getting the CRC that they take the pre-tests on their own and are working ahead using on-line training materials. WorkKeys and the CRC are not only being used to prepare people for the workplace-- they are tools for enhancing the quality of life for many. For more information on the ESL program, click here.
  • The theme, Documented Results, recently caught the attention of businesses at an event hosted by Bill Ratzburg of District U-46 in Elgin, IL. Over 100 educators and business leaders gathered to attend a session that included speakers from across the United States highlighting the results of using WorkKeys. Rose Hodges, Human Resource Director of Wyeth Pharmaceuticals in Richmond, Virginia showed how the maker of such products as Advil™, Robitussin™, and ChapStick™ built an award-winning employee development program using WorkKeys and the Career Readiness Certificate. Randy Lane of Eastman Chemical in Tennessee demonstrated how WorkKeys played a significant role in making their selection process efficient and effective as they faced the challenge of hiring 1,500 new employees over a five year period. Dr. Bill McMillan, formerly of the City Colleges of Chicago, explained how WorkKeys was instrumental in helping thousands of Chicagoans aquire jobs with Ford Motor Company. In each case, Keytrain was used to assess and train for WorkKeys success. (An excerpt from Keytrain News, September 2008)
  • The NOCC continues to receive many enquiries about the CRC and its implementation. Most of these enquiries are a result of Google searches that lead to the CRCC web site. So here is another reminder to send your news and CRC number updates to the NOCC for inclusion on the web site so that we can present an accurate picture of the tremendous work that is being done in the states to address the trainability issue in our current and emerging workforce.
  • Each year, KeyTrain sponsors the Hugh McCrabb Scholarship. The Scholarship honors the late Hugh McCrabb for his pioneering work in making the Career Readiness Certificate a reality in Oklahoma and helping to increase workplace skills for thousands of Oklahomans. The 2008-09 Scholarship was awarded to Billy Henson, an adult student enrolled in the HVAC/R program at Moore Norman Technology Center. Billy, married with one son, plans to graduate, gain a position in the HVAC field, and eventually start his own business. Billy’s application showed a wonderful sense of humor (a requirement based on McCrabb’s ever-present wit) but also a serious side. In it, he states “Gaining an education and a career that I can be proud of will take me one step closer to becoming the man and father that I want to be.” Hugh McCrabb would have been proud to assist Billy in accomplishing his goals. (An excerpt from Keytrain News, September 2008)
  • Tremendous progress continues to be made in terms of the number of CRCs issued across the country. Once again, Bill Guest in MI has summarized this progress by ranking the states. Here is the latest Top 10 list:
    • South Carolina 68,000
    • Indiana 66,023
    • Michigan 37,138
    • Ohio 37,000
    • Oklahoma 22,498
    • Louisiana 17,566
    • Virginia 17,419
    • North Carolina 17,307
    • Florida >16,000
    • Missouri 14,941
  • News just in from Central PA that they now have a talent reserve link available through their web site, They have issued a total of 1349 certificates so far so things are going well for this local WIB and its customers.
  • The NOCC recommends that you place a live link to the CRC Consortium web site on your state or local web pages. This would make a reciprocal arrangement as your web sites are listed on the CRC site. The NOCC would also appreciate being listed and linked. We can send you the NOCC logo if you need it. Click here to make the request.
  • Previous NOCC newsletters are archived under Resources on the NOCC web site. The links sent out previously through e-mail will not work since the server was updated.


  • A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future, Daniel H. Pink
  • This book is extraordinary both in its readability and relevance to workforce development. Perhaps THE business book of 2008, competing easily with Friedman's latest. Highly recommended.

  • Thrive: The Skills Imperative, Council on Competitiveness
  • The Energy-Competitiveness Relationship, Council on Competitiveness
  • Hot, Flat, and Crowded, Thomas L. Freidman
  • A compelling and somewhat alarming picture of our world and the threats to its well-being. Friedman doesn't disappoint. As eye-opening and thought-provoking as The World Is Flat, this latest work sets out a clear pathway for action based on frightening but undeniable truths.

  • The Creative Brain, and The Whole Brain Business Book, Ned Hermann

    Oldies but goodies! Ned's work can stand the test of time, and his findings are most relevant (and worth revisiting) as we move into the Conceptual Age.

  • Cradle To Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, William McDonough & Michael Braungart

    Review to come.

  • Making Sustainability Work: Best practices in Managing and Measuring Corporate Social, Environmental, and Economic Impacts, Marc J. Epstein

    Review to come.

  • Answers to Pop Quiz:

    Affluenza--a term used by critics of consumerism is defined as follows:

    • affluenza, n. a painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more
    • affluenza, n, 1. the bloated, sluggish and unfulfilled feeling that results from efforts to keep up with the Joneses. 2. An epidemic of stress, overwork, waste and indebtedness caused by the pursuit of the American Dream. 3. An unsustainable addiction to economic growth.


Educonomy--the intersection of education and the economy

An Americum--any group of 350 million people with a per capita income above $15,000 and a growing penchant for consumerism. These people aspire to an American middle-class lifestyle.

(Tom Burke of E3G, quoted by Friedman).

(Americums are taking shape all over the world. For many years there was only one in North America and another in Europe. Now China has one and another will be "born" there in 2030, India has one with another on the way, and several more exist or are being hatched. By 2030, it is estimated that there will be 8 or 9 Americums on the planet. Of course, that number was estimated BEFORE the recent global financial collapses)

The Conceptual Age--the next phase in our economic progression from the Agrarian Age through the Industrial Age, to the Information Age and now the Conceptual Age. According to Daniel Pink, the main characters in this new age are creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers, and meaning makers. The transition is being fed by affluence, technological progress, and globalization, and it will build an economy in which both the linear left-brain thinkers and the more creative, design-oriented right brainers will play roles.

  • NOCC Thought For The Day:

    "We Americans are in no position to lecture anyone. But we are in a position to know better. We are in a position to set a different example of growth. . . Both Europe and Japan have demonstrated that it is possible to live a middle-class lifestyle with much less consumption."

Thomas L. Freidman.


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    © NOCC October, 2008