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Chamber, NDC host Skilled Iowa testing day at DMACC

About a dozen community leaders, residents participate

Published: Friday, Sept. 27, 2013 11:31 a.m. CST • Updated: Friday, Sept. 27, 2013 11:53 a.m. CST
(Submitted Photo)
About a dozen community business leaders and residents participated in a special Skilled Iowa testing day Thursday at the DMACC Newton Campus.

Reactions to the National Career Readiness Certificate test ranged from “that was really hard” to “it was easier than I expected.”

But whether the roughly one dozen community leaders and Newton residents who took part in the Skilled Iowa testing day received NCRC certification or not, they all learned something about themselves Thursday morning. And, for many of them, future employers will be able to tall something about them, as well.

“[I] had a great time with the test,” Greater Newton Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Darrell Sarmento said. “The NCRC test was not easy, which means this is a very valuable tool for employers to use in hiring. I’m happy with my ‘silver’ certificate for my first time out.”

The Chamber and Newton Development Corporation partnered to host the event at the DMACC Newton Campus. Testing is available at the community college on a regular basis by appointment, but Thursday’s testing event was meant to serve as a promotion of Newton’s efforts to become a Skilled Iowa Community.

The more people who take the test, the closer Newton gets to reaching that goal.

Many of those who took the test were taking it in the hopes of securing a better job, or to provide themselves another leg up in the all-too-competitive employment market. The rest were business and community leaders who took the test to get a better understanding of it and how it could apply to their hiring practices in the future.

The NCRC is a product of Iowa-based ACT Inc. and is meant to be a “portable credential” to demonstrate the certificant’s achievement and level of workplace employability skills in three distinct disciplines. This is measured through ACT’s WorkKeys assessments in:

* Applied Mathematics,

• Locating Information, and

• Reading for Information.

These assessments, which may be performed on a computer, or in a paper-and-pencil format, are 55-minute examinations of 33 or 38 questions in length. They measure “real world” skills many employers believe are critical to job success.

Test questions are based on situations in the everyday work world. In Iowa, hundreds of potential employers now recognize the NCRC as part of their hiring processes, including roughly 300 in the region that includes Jasper County.

This is part of the privately funded Skilled Iowa program offered by Iowa Workforce Development. Through Skilled Iowa, the NCRC assessments are offered free of charge to any Iowan, regardless of income or employment status. Likewise, WorkKeys remedial training programs and retesting for the NCRC assessments are also offered free to any Iowan.

“Middle-skill jobs — those requiring more than a high school diploma up to an associate degree — account for more than 50 percent of available jobs in Iowa, yet only 33 percent of the workforce has the necessary skills to fill these roles,” Iowa Workforce Development Director Teresa Wahlert said during an earlier interview about Skilled Iowa. “The Skilled Iowa Initiative works to increase skill levels of Iowa’s workforce — which helps people find great jobs, companies find skilled workers and our state’s economy grow and prosper.”

Sarmento reminds residents of Newton and Jasper County that the DMACC Newton Campus is a year-round NCRC testing site. To schedule a time to take the test, call DMACC at (641) 791-3622.

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