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ACEC learners earn credentials for today’s workplace

Today’s rapidly changing, technology-based economy requires strong, transferable skills for anyone wanting not only to enter the workforce, but to also remain in the workforce. Jobs are difficult to keep, if you are lucky enough to have one in the first place, and even more difficult to acquire if you are in the interview process. The number of job seekers competing for every job opening is at the highest since the recession began. In October 2009, the Labor Department reported a national average of 6.3 unemployed workers for every job opening.

The Archuleta County Education Center made the decision two years ago to become a viable source in helping the residents of this county earn the necessary credentials to give them a competitive advantage in today’s workforce. The centerpiece of that competitive edge was and is the National Career Readiness Certificates (NCRC) provided by ACT, Inc., and Colorado Governor Ritter’s new CareerReady Colorado Certification (CRCC), which is patterned after the NCRC.

ACT, Inc., after profiling thousands of U.S. jobs, developed an assessment program entitled WorkKeys, which measures skills that employers validated as essential in 85 percent of those jobs and occupations profiled. The NCRC and the CRCC require qualifying scores in the Reading for Information, Applied Mathematics and Locating Information skills categories. These WorkKeys assessments provide a validated measure of “real world” workplace competencies, and can thus be used by employers for employee selection and promotion decisions. Individuals achieving the Silver Level and above will also have success with community/technical college entrance placement examinations when seeking postsecondary career study.

The NCRC, which is becoming a national standard, and the Colorado credential recognize individual skills at three performance levels and award a different certificate for each.

• Gold: People who hold Gold certificates possess foundational skill levels needed for 90 percent of the occupations analyzed by ACT.

• Silver: People who hold Silver certificates qualify for 65 percent of the occupations analyzed by ACT.

• Bronze: People who hold Bronze certificates are at the threshold of workplace competence and are qualified for 35 percent of the jobs studied by ACT.

As of the Jan. 13, 2010, 18 Ed Center learners have earned their National Career Readiness Certificates: adults have earned three Gold, four Silver and one Bronze; Archuleta County High School students have earned three Gold, six Silver and one Bronze. We are very proud to congratulate and recognize the following for their commitment to hard work and deserved success:

Christine Richardson, Katherine Ross, April Gonzalez, Jerry Shugart, Celso Davis, Carly Trujillo, Alisa Murray, Jacob Herrera, Mickey Calvillo, Jake Christensen, Nick Jackson, Chris Johnson, Robert Koontz, Steven Roberts, Ty Sanders, JoJo Spinelli, Eric Tatum and Allan VanNess.

By the end of this year, there will be others following in their footsteps but, for now, they are the workforce readiness trailblazers for the Archuleta County Education Center.