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DMACC hoping to equip workers with Skilled Iowa assessment

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012 12:01 p.m. CST • Updated: Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012 12:08 p.m. CST

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Des Moines Area Community College, along with Iowa Workforce Development, have been working hard with the Skilled Iowa program in an effort to strengthen the workforce of Iowa.

Skilled Iowa features an assessment that offers workers an opportunity to receive a National Career Readiness Certificate. The Skilled Iowa assessment is made by the creators of the ACT and is a nationally recognized program. According to its website, the NCRC Plus ranks individuals in the following soft skills categories:

• Work Discipline: Productivity and dependability.

• Teamwork: Tolerance, communication, and attitude.

• Customer Service Orientation: Interpersonal skills and perseverance.

• Managerial Potential: Persuasion, enthusiasm, and problem solving.

The program has just launched at DMACC, and Kim Didier, executive director of DMACC business resources, is working hard to inform the public about the program.

“We are working on getting a [DMACC] website up,” Didier said. “People can take the assessment online or by paper and pencil.”

There are four levels of ranking assessment: bronze, silver, gold and platinum. Assessment takers are ranked based on their overall score. Test takers must meet the basic qualifications on all subjects to get a bronze, silver, gold or platinum ranking. For example, if individuals score high on the reading portion, but score low on the math section, they may get a bronze ranking. In addition, they can receive more training online through a program called KeyTrain and can even retake assessments.

KeyTrain provides an in-depth look on what to do to achieve a higher score. Detailed examples and practice tests are provided. The assessment uses real-world problems in its questions, and the online practice assessment allows individuals to review each question and see why the answer they chose was correct or not.

DMACC Business Consultant Renee Miller has been working with employers for the Skilled Iowa program.

“The businesses verify that individuals coming in have the core skills to better qualify and meet demands of the job,” Miller said.

Indivduals may only get tested at appointed assessment centers, and DMACC is one of those centers.

The practice assessment can be taken at home on the Internet. It asks users to create a username and password. The practice assessment only works on Internet Explorer 7 or later versions with the pop up blocker turned off. No practice assessment will be the same. Currently, there is only one version of each assessment subject.

“Anyone in the State of Iowa can use it,” Didier explained.

The NCRC originally launched in 2006. Since then, more than a million certifications have been issued in more than 40 states. The assessment test will concentrate on applied mathematics, locating information and reading for information.

The reason many states have joined is because it allows employers to match up job openings with workers who are properly skilled. It should help employees find jobs that are best matched for their skill levels.

After the test, users will be put into a database and then can search for a job based on their skills. The assessment ranks skills on a scale of one to seven, with seven being the highest and one the lowest. During a search, users can search for a specific job but also can get a better understanding of their true options by sticking to their score.

Indivdiauls can even narrow their search by selecting best match, exact match, better jobs, all qualified jobs or higher jobs skill. The reasoning behind the higher job training option is to allow users to look at jobs that they could train into.

Matthew Shepard can be contacted at (641) 792-3121 ext. 425 or via email at mshepard@newtondailynews.com.

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