ACT Certified Work Ready Communities Academy
The ACT® Certified Work Ready Community initiative is a core element in the effort to build a truly national system for work readiness. At the core of this aspiration sit ACT National Career Readiness Certificates (NCRCs) that focus on certifying three essential skills – applied math, reading for information, and locating information. The NCRC is an evidence-based credential that has been proven to accurately predict work readiness and job performance. And, this predictive power applies to all three key groups of people: new workers, transitioning workers and individuals who already have jobs.
These Certificates – and the skills they verify – help assure employers that the people hired and/or advanced will succeed. The Certificates also act like passports – regardless of where an individual lives or moves, the Certificates testify to work readiness. And, because the Certificates are a win/win for employers and employees alike, counties that have sustainable, ongoing certification efforts are far more attractive. In effect, Certified Work Ready Counties have a built in economic development advantage in the eyes of existing employers as well as those contemplating relocations.
ACT’s Certified Work Ready Communities Academy is for leaders who want to move aggressively forward into this 21st-century approach to work readiness and economic development. The Academy is a twelve month performance-driven program state leadership teams use to initiate, deploy and drive carefully tailored statewide efforts that grow the number of counties certified as work ready. The goal is clear: ‘on board’ and certify all the counties in your state.
To succeed at this goal, state leadership teams shape a performance-driven strategy that builds on deploying ACT's testing infrastructure and data gathering. However, the strategy must go beyond these two elements – and the CWRC initiative helps state leadership teams do that by shaping what we call a 'challenge' that makes the most sense for each state's unique circumstances, including – critically – that state's county-by-county degree of work readiness. Successful teams are those willing to invest the team time and focus needed to shape and succeed against this challenge-centric approach.
The CWRC initiative consists of four on-site three-day meetings with conference calls in between. Attendance at the sessions is mandatory for all members of the participating state leadership teams. The kickoff meeting will be hosted in Atlanta, Georgia in August 2012.
Approaches and topics covered include:
- THE BASICS: ACT is providing process, tools and data to support building a common platform at the county level for measuring and closing the skills gap based upon the NCRC. The model is built upon partnerships at the national, state and local levels and an Academy approach to provide structure to the start-up and successful launch. ACT CWRC is a ‘docking station’ for states to ‘plug into’ and connect their existing or new workforce initiatives. The process includes ‘on boarding’ of counties to the State’s Certified Work Ready Community initiative.
- WHY COUNTIES? The LINK, ALIGN and MATCHING of the workforce is implemented at the local level. Having a process in place for county leaders to work together to match people to jobs, align workforce goals to economic development and link education and workforce together to improve the skill level is what county-level Certified Work Ready Communities do.
- THE PLAYERS: Employers, individuals (new to workforce, transitioning, already employed), state leaders, educators, economic development, chambers, workforce professionals, community leaders, families, media and more
- THE CHALLENGE: We provide proven tools/approaches state leadership teams use to describe the challenge of onboarding counties as well as 'what success looks like'
- LEADERSHIP: We help state teams figure out who needs to put the time and effort in to make sure success happens
Composition of state leadership team should consist of state senior staff with decision-making authority that includes:
- Governor's office policy advisor
- State workforce development agency representative
- State department of commerce or economic development staff representative
- Community/technical college staff
- K-12 career and technical education staff
- Business and/or chamber representative
- Other representative
Upon completion of the ACT CWRC Academy and implementation of the CWRC framework, state teams will have successfully established a statewide, sustainable, county-based Certified Work Ready Community effort. Successful states will enjoy established performance metrics and documented return on investment that can be leveraged to integrate and connect current workforce development efforts and to jump start new initiatives.