A skills-based certification is now available across Oregon to help job applicants prove that they are ready to work.
Oregon’s National Career Readiness Certificate was formally launched on January 25 by Governor Kitzhaber at an event that included presentations by leaders in the effort to make the NCRC available to all Oregonians.
Governor Kitzhaber has included the NCRC as a key element in his workforce development platform, citing the important contribution that skilled workers make to a company’s success. He noted that the foundational skills proven by the NCRC,”are the skills and abilities that all of Oregon’s recovering companies need now, more than ever, to become and remain competitive, regardless of whether they are in our rural communities or urban centers.”
During 2011, an anticipated 55,000 jobs will open in Oregon, and competition for each job vacancy will be fierce. It will be even more important for employers to have tools that help them select and hire new employees.
The Governor concluded that, “building the economy is essential to all we wish to achieve for our state. As we work our way out of this recession, we will need every tool to rebuild our competitiveness. The Oregon NCRC provides us one more of tool, and I hope that more Oregon employers will ask for it.”
During his remarks, Governor Kitzhaber recognized the tremendous work of the local stakeholders who made it possible to bring the program to statewide scale. Oregon’s NCRC has the hallmark of a strong public and private partnership that includes the Oregon Employment Department, Local Workforce Investment Boards , community colleges, economic development representatives and other community partners.
The Governor also presented a certificate to Rich Bonner, a foundry specialist for PCC Structurals in Portland. Bonner holds an engineering degree and had experience in manufacturing. After ten years in the mortgage industry, Bonner decided to return to his roots. PCC Structurals offered him an interview and asked that he complete the NCRC certification, since the company prefers that applicants have a certificate. Rich earned a Gold certificate and successfully navigated the hiring process. He has been working at PCC Structurals for four months, and feels his National Career Readiness Certificate helped him stand out from other job candidates.
Jon Stark, manager of Redmond Economic Development, Inc., confirmed that skilled workers are essential for attracting new businesses to Central Oregon. “Workforce is the number one deciding factor in selection,” said Stark. “As a rule, 60 percent of the decision-making is placed on workforce quality and availability. In the past, it took a huge effort to prove our region has the employees they need. Today, with the NCRC, it’s a different story. We can use the growing local pool of certificate holders to demonstrate our region’s high-quality workforce.”
David Williams, VP of utility services at NW Natural, and co-chair of both the NCRC implementation committee and the Governor’s workforce development transition team, noted that the state’s business community is firmly behind Oregon’s NCRC as a valuable resource to develop, certify and identify work-ready Oregonians. He also spoke about NW Natural’s experience with the certification.
“NW Natural has used the assessments for years to guide internal promotions, and we now prefer that all applicants have an NCRC. We’ve watched hiring and retention rates improved as a direct result,” said Williams.
In explaining why Oregon’s NCRC is a valuable addition to Oregon’s workforce development efforts, Camille Preus, CCWD’s commissioner said, “the NCRC is a powerful tool for helping businesses find employees who will help their companies compete and grow. Oregon’s NCRC provides a way for individuals to not only develop and certify their skills, but to advance along career pathways.”
Eileen Drake, VP of administration and legal affairs at PCC Structurals, explained why the company uses the NCRC. “We have 13 locations across six states and two countries, with about 3,000 employees in Oregon,” said Drake.
We’re in a growth mode and we’re hiring. When we have a job available, we can get hundreds of applicants, and even if they all look alike on resumes, the NCRC gives us a way to really differentiate what they are actually able to do.”
To earn an NCRC, available at no cost, individuals complete three to four hours of proctored assessments in applied math, reading and locating information. To date, over 4,400 Oregonians hold a certificate, and 68 businesses have added their names to a growing list of those who prefer to recruit job applicants with an NCRC.
Oregonians interested in earning a certificate can begin by talking to a local WorkSource Oregon center or visiting www.OregonNCRC.org.