The National Career Readiness Certificate


Michigan’s economy has seen a radical shift as industries have sent their jobs overseas, and many companies have closed. To regain our economy and the prosperity it brought, Michigan employers, schools and families must work together with local and state communities both to create the jobs and the employees of the future. Our state needs good jobs that can support our families. To draw those kinds of jobs, we need a workforce with good skills, well prepared for lifelong learning. The National Career Readiness Certificate helps with this preparation.

What is the NCRC? 

The NCRC is both a local and national credential and is based on three WorkKeys tests.  Graduates can earn a bronze, silver or gold certificate and then take these with them anywhere in the country, since it means the same thing in every state.  Earning a Certificate demonstrates a particular skill level in reading, math and locating information, the most critical areas according to hundreds of employers.  The NCRC will be a great complement to the high school diploma.  The diploma is a credential of academic preparation, while the career certificate is a credential of skill application.  Together, these credentials will prepare young people to begin their adult lives, whether they go to work, to college/advanced training, or both.    

What part do the schools play?

Schools prepare students for graduation, which increasingly means preparing them for the skills they’ll need in the workforce and for post-secondary study.  Schools will need to create a common set of expectations for all students and teach the courses students need to meet them.  Our schools also need to help students with career awareness and educational development plans used to map out the coursework for the high school years.  Our schools are preparing students to take these important assessments and help administer them. 

What part does business play?

Business must become engaged at several levels: communicating its importance to their staff, using the NCRC in hiring, and advocating for it across the region.  Business needs to explain to their staff and their communities the importance of this new credential and what it means to them.  Employers need to understand how the WorkKeys skills apply to their entry-level jobs.  They also must require potential employees show them their certificate and talk about the job as it relates to the WorkKeys skills.  In hiring, employers need to ask job applicants, “Do you have the National Career Readiness Certificate in addition to your diploma?”  Ask your local chamber for more information – all of the chambers in the West Michigan Chamber Coalition have adopted this initiative.

What part do students and families play?

Students and their families will need to think about college/advanced training and careers earlier than they have in the past.  Plus, students need to know that lifelong learning in now the norm.  They will need to prepare for these important assessments, both the ACT and WorkKeys, and get help if needed.  Students will show their new National Career Readiness Certificate to potential employers and be able to discuss their skills and abilities to begin learning on the job.  With both the NCRC and their high school diploma, students will be ready for the world.  These credentials signify their readiness for college/training and for the workforce.

What are the benefits for our region?

Implementing the NCRC area-wide will have a huge impact.  We will be able to demonstrate the skill level of the work force, making us a first choice for companies looking to expand or relocate here.  Area employers will be able to hire workers with skills that match their entry-level jobs.  A growing database of bronze, silver and gold scores will show we have a pool of skilled workers and draw the high-skill jobs we all want to attract. 

For general information, visit
For local information specific to Kent ISD, contact Ron Koehler, Assistant Superintendent.