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Colleges are able to evaluate a potential student’s readiness for the rigors of a university classroom through national tests like the ACT and SAT. Until recently, employers had nothing similar to objectively assess a potential employee’s readiness for the rigors of the workplace. It was nearly impossible to ascertain which applicants had the right core skills to learn while on the job and could also apply what they already knew to the position and bring value to the company.

The Mason City Area Chamber of Commerce has teamed up with Iowa Workforce Development, North Iowa Area Community College, the local school districts, Kaplan University, and others to bring the National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) to the schools and businesses in the North Iowa region. This effort is helping to build a technologically talented local workforce.

The NCRC was developed by ACT. The three-part exam covers Applied Mathematics, Reading for Information, and Locating Information. According to employers, even a high school or higher ed diploma really tells them nothing about an applicant’s aptitude in math and reading.

That is why members of the North Iowa business community are jumping on the bandwagon to get the NCRC more widely accepted in the area. The goal is to raise the baseline aptitude of the community, and at the same time give those making hiring decisions a sense of the skills and potential of the people they hire. The job skills the NCRC exam evaluates are innate intelligence as well as the core skills that are developed through education.

In time, all local high school and college students will have earned the NCRC. North Iowa firms as well as firms seeking to locate here are looking for skilled workers. This program documents that North Iowa has skilled workers that are a good match for our jobs.

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