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


Volume 2, Number 7, 2008

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


In this issue:

  • Conference News
  • Workforce Development News
  • CRC Consortium News


  • The National WorkKeys Conference in Indianapolis in April was a great success with approximately 700 attendees. About 1/3 of these were first time attendees, and there were more business representatives than ever before. Given the severe budget restrictions facing many school and college districts and businesses, this was testament to the power of the CRC/WorkKeys message.
  • NCDA Global Conference, July 9-11, 2008, Washington DC.

    July 7-8, Pre-conference symposium on international advances in career development and public policy

  • Workforce Innovations 2008, New Orleans, July 15-17. Registrations are now open. Visit

  • Southeastern Employment and Training (SETA) Conference, September 14-17 in Biloxi, MS
  • ACTE Convention & Career Tech Expo, Charlotte, NC, December 4-6. Daniel Pink and William Daggett are featured speakers. Visit for more information
  • NC Workforce Development Partnership Conference, October 22-24, in Greensboro, NC
  • The Midwest WorkKeys™ conference will be hosted by the Oklahoma Department of Commerce in partnership with the Oklahoma Chamber of Commerce. The only details available so far are that the conference will be at the end of October 2008 in Oklahoma City
  • 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. The Call for Proposals is now open.


  • The Council on Competitiveness recently published Thrive: The Skills Imperative . The report warns that America is facing a severe skills shortage, and that unless the country adopts a national skills agenda, millions of US-based jobs, many in the service economy, may be filled by educated foreign workers.

    The report also estimates that, at least through 2014, 40-45% of all job openings in our economy will be in middle-skilled occupations, 1/3 will be in high-skilled jobs, and 22% will be low-skilled.

    It is therefore imperative that we educate students, parents, counselors, and workforce development professionals in one-stop centers who regularly push job seekers to get college degrees (as opposed to post-secondary training/education) about the realities of the new workplace. The retirement of baby-boomers (and consequent vacancies) will be mainly in middle-skilled jobs, and 3/4 of all jobs will be in the service economy. These jobs pay well and do not require a full college degree. Most community colleges are responding to these needs by providing education and training on a JIT basis, but time and money are sometimes mis-used by putting dislocated workers into lengthy degree programs. We must use our precious resources wisely by starting with the end in mind, i.e. by considering exactly what skills a re-training worker requires, and ensuring that appropriate classes are prescribed. Pre-calculus, for example, is NOT needed by someone who is learning how to repair solar panels!

  • A 2007 Manpower report indicates that technicians, mechanics and machine operators remain among the top 10 critical talent shortages. The complete list is:

    1. Sales representatives; 2. Teachers; 3. Mechanics; 4. Technicians; 5. Management; 6. Truck drivers--freight; 7. Drivers--delivery; 8. Accountants; 9. Laborers; 10. Machine operators.

    With the current shortage of well-qualified, dedicated teachers, not just in the US but in most of the western world, it is encouraging to finally see a future workforce report that lists the profession on its Top 10 list.

  • Stating that "the drop-out crisis has significant implications for workforce readiness and the U.S. economy", Laura Stanford, President of the AT&T Foundation announced plans for the Foundation to commit $110 million to drop-out prevention. The AT&T Aspire initiative inlcudes 4 main components: Grants to schools and non-profit groups for programs that help students stay in school; Creation of a company-wide job-shadowing program to help 100,000 students; Commissioning national research to gather the perspective of school practitioners on how to address the root causes of the drop-out issue; and Underwriting assistance for America's Promise Alliance for staging 100 state and community drop-out prevention summits.

    Small grants of $50,000-$100,000 for up to 4 years are available to support existing successful high-school retention programs. If you are working with your local school district on implementation of the CRC as a way of bringing relevance to high school learning and as a stepping stone into careers, you might consider putting in an application to AT&T.

    Other corporate Foundations (e.g. Gates, Dell, GE, and others) have similar grant programs that you might also consider.
  • Once again, the publishers of Education Week are giving you an opportunity to experience their on-line version of this most informative journal. From June 4-10, you can read it free at One important part of this opportunity is that you can download all archived materials FREE during this week so if you missed Diplomas Count 2008 and would like a copy, if you want to explore the new mapping feature that allows you to compare graduation rates across the country, or if you would like to read and download older reports, be sure to visit the site THIS WEEK.
  • While we are talking about archived materials, please remember that previous NOCC newsletters are available at the NOCC web site.
  • In January 2008, Softscape, a human capital software company released results of a survey conducted among HR professionals. The results indicated that a staggering 94% of the respondents do not feel that their workforce is adequately prepared to meet the future goals of their organization. The number one driver behind this concern was the need to retain skilled staff, followed by finding top talent and developing future leaders.
  • The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) report Workforce Readiness and the New Essential Skills was released recently. It is currently only available to SHRM members. The report emphasizes that while the "flat world" concept (Thomas Friedman) focuses on the level of excellence of workers within existing skill areas, there is an equal concern about the movement toward an entirely new set of required skills that call for right-brained, conceptual ways of thinking (see Daniel Pink's recent books). SHRM concludes that BOTH of these situations are probably correct.

    Global competition is forcing us to find ways of improving productivity, encourage innovation, and to find and retain the most skilled workers. The US is falling behind global competition in preparing young people for the workplace and the economy of the future. In a 2007 report from the OECD, Primary and Secondary Education in the United States, concern was expressed that in international comparisons, the performance of US students is "not especially good". This seems to be an understatement when the US ranks 29th. on the 2007 PISA Science Competetencies for Tomorrow's World report, with a mean score of 489 (statistically significantly below the OECD average). Finland was first with a score of 563, with China (Hong Kong) second (542), Canada (534) third, and Japan fifth with 531. The SHRM report includes other useful information such as a ranked list of in-demand skills as shown in its 2006 report, Are They Really ready To Work? To refresh your memory, the top 10 skills listed in that report are: Critical thinking/problem solving; IT application; Teamwork/collaboration; Creativity/innovation; Diversity; Leadership; Oral communications; Professionalism/work ethic; Ethics/social responsibility; and Written communications.

Perhaps surprising is that Mathematics, Reading comprehension, and Writing in English rank 13, 14, and 15th. respectively. What does show clearly though is that knowledge of any/all of these skills is no longer sufficient. Employers are requiring that their employees demonstrate application capabilities so that brings us back to the CRC concept of what people can DO as opposed to only what they KNOW. Visit the SHRM site for more useful information or to join the organization.


  • Great news from Wyoming! After working persistently, enthusiastically, and regionally for many months, and issuing local CRCs from her college, Neva Schwartz reports that a full state CRC initiative will begin in June. This individual effort is typical of yet unique among CRC Consortium members. Because of Neva's dedication and that of so many of you, the CRC has become a major part of our national training and development work. Congratulations to Neva and her colleagues in Wyoming. Neva may be contacted at in case you want to send news and congratulations to her directly.
  • The Career Readiness Certificate: An Implementation Handbook (2nd. Edition, 2008) authored by Barbara Bolin, is available for download from the NOCC web site. Suggestions for future updates of the Handbook may be submitted directly to the author.
  • The NOCC has received queries and concerns regarding costs associated with issuance of the National CRC. The ACTTM web site shows a cost of $15 for printing each copy of a National CRC on a private printer. The NOCC has not received any information that contradicts this, but we have learned of at least two school districts that have decided to issue local/state CRCs rather than the National CRC to reduce these printing costs. If you have questions on this topic, please contact your ACT representative directly.
  • If you are issuing a "credit card" version of the CRC (i.e. a plastic/laminated mini-version or some other facsimile of the paper certificate), please click here to let us know.
  • While many states now have statewide contracts for CRC implementation and training, it is surprising how many questions come into the NOCC from hard-working individuals in those states who appear to be unaware of these contracts and initiatives. We recognize that having a state project does not necessarily translate into direct, practical assistance at the local level, and we also recognize that in several instances, local districts and organizations are preferring to "do their own thing" rather than following state mandates, but we can't help but think that there is a lack of meaningful communication and marketing at the highest levels in a state or two.

    The NOCC exists to inform and assist in any way that we can in terms of the CRC and other credentialing efforts, and to that end, we put a lot of information on the CRC web site, We refer many people to the web site and we hope that others are using it as the first place to go for help and contacts. The "News From The States" page is particularly informative in terms of statewide efforts. If you cannot find the information you need on the web site, or if you would prefer a personal response, click here to contact us.

  • The Top 10 lists for CRC issuance will be forwarded to you soon. Our apologies for not including them in this newsletter.


The NOCC is now 1 year old. To celebrate and to continue our service to you, we are having a spring fund-raising drive. Unlike National Public Radio and PBS, we don't have tote bags or coffee mugs to give you for your donation to the NOCC. All you get from the NOCC is: useful, up-to-date information like you've just read, a web site that informs the world of the terrific progress you are making with the CRC and in other areas of economic development, prompt responses to phone calls and e-mails, answers to questions, research conducted on your behalf, a forum that announces your successes to the world, presentations and writings that highlight your work, and connections that are made for you across the country and in other countries.

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NOCC Thought for the Day:

Actual quotes from employee performance evaluations:

1. He brings a lot of joy when he leaves the room

2. If you gave him a penny for his thoughts, you'd get change

3. Takes her 2 hours to watch "60 Minutes"



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© NOCC, June, 2008