Ark. Seeks to Improve Quality of Workers in State with New Program

January 18, 2008

Arkansas state government is promoting a new program for workers who want to improve their job security. The state Department of Workforce Services is among several state agencies that are promoting a new certification for workers, the Arkansas Career Readiness Certificate (CRC), according to an announcement on the Arkansas Senate Web site.

Through the program, workers can take a free test, and depending on how well they score, they get a certification that they are prepared and adequately trained for various jobs.

The idea behind the CRC credential is that it will give workers a competitive edge, because it assures prospective employers that the workers have solid job training.

For state government, the goal of the program is to enhance economic development. Surveys indicate that there is a growing gap between the job skills needed by employers and those the current workforce actually has.

Last year, for example, eastern Arkansas failed to land an automobile manufacturing plant that eventually located in northern Mississippi. Some analysts believe the manufacturer had questions about the readiness of the Arkansas workforce, and those questions may have been a factor in the company’s decision to locate in Mississippi.

The assessments offered to Arkansas workers are done by a national firm and are used in at least 20 other states. The credential is portable in that it is not tied to a specific job in a specific industry, rather it certifies that the worker has specific skills that are valuable for a number of jobs.

The Arkansas certification process will target these three skills: reading for information, applied mathematics and locating information.

Reading for information means being able to comprehend the usual sources of material that a worker can expect to use on the job. Those sources include memos, bulletin boards, policy manuals and government regulations. Applied mathematics is using mathematical reasoning for work-related problems.

Locating information is to understand and use sources like diagrams, floor plans, charts, graphs and various forms.

The potential benefits for certified workers are evident. For factories and companies that may consider locating in Arkansas, the benefits include lower training costs. Those companies will be able to hire more workers who have proven skills. Their training programs can be more focused, thus more efficient.

Even a worker who has a diploma, a GED or a degree can benefit from getting a CRC because it designates that the worker has specific skills. The tests are free and can be taken at Workforce Services offices around the state, at two-year colleges, at some adult education centers and at satellite campuses of several four-year universities.

The CRC credential is based on an assessment known as WorkKeys, which is a registered trademark. For more information us available online at

Workers who are not skilled enough to acquire a CRC will be referred to a training program or an adult education center.

The CRC credentialing process has clear benefits for entry level workers, but it also can help workers gain promotions after they have been hired, the announcement said.

Source: Arkansas Senate

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