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Kristin's Blog

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​​Executive Director's Blog
November 28
Thank you

Dear Advocates, 

Let me begin by saying "Thank you." Over the past year I have had the unique opportunity to get to know career readiness certificate advocates from all over the US. I've had the privilege of observing, connecting, and working along side people from various sectors who posses a common passion - developing a national essential skills credentialing system.  

Some of the highlights of this past year include:
  • Meeting the Jobinator in Central Louisiana, providing the closing keynote at Cenla's Work Ready Summit, and participating as a judge on a panel for the Rapides Foundation's 2012 NCRC Video Challenge
  • Connecting with advocates from around the US at ACT's 2012 Workforce Conference in our pre-conference session
  • Coordinating and participating in Michigan's NCRC Advocates Board summer planning retreat
  • Visiting Fabric Images and Hoffer Plastics in Illinois and working with Illinois Advocates to develop an intrastate NCRC coalition
  • Leading employer awareness sessions in West Michigan
  • Collaborating with ACT staff and NCRC/CRC advocates from various states to combine our efforts for advancing a career readiness credentialing system
  • Learning about promising practices from key NCRC/CRC champions including Pat Hayes and Paul Calvagna (IL), Susan Kuzmic (OK), Jay Dunwell, Cindy Leyrer, and Ann Stanton (MI), Michael Paris (TX), Ana Gilbertson (IA), and many more..
I would also like to inform you that this is one of my last posts as Executive Director of the National CRC Advocates. As of December 1st, I will be transitioning from my current role as Executive Director to a member of the Advocates Board.  Bill Guest will once again staff the National CRC Advocates. To learn more about this transition and our plan for the Advocates organization, read this letter from Don Carstensen​, Chair of the National CRC Advocates board.

Lastly, a special thanks to the Advocates Board of Directors for your insight, guidance, and encouragement. I look forward to joining the board in an effort to continue this important work.

NOTE: After November 30th, my phone number will stay the same (616.299.9690) or you can email me at 

Continue the great work!


Kristin Ekkens​
November 13
New Employer Lists

​Hello fellow advocates!

I'm in the process of compiling a national list of employers and partners who are using the NCRC for hiring and talent development.  On our Employers page I've started a list of direct links to statewide and/or regional lists of employers supporting the NCRC movement (bottom of right column). I  have over 20 states listed currently. If you would like to add to this list, please email me at before November 26.  

I must add - I'm thoroughly impressed with the growing lists from around the country.  Keep up the great work!

October 22
A Talent Development Solution

In September 2012, Corporate Voices for Working Families published a report entitled A Talent Development Solution: Exploring Business Drivers and Returns in Learn and Earn Partnerships​

Corporate Voices define Learn and Earn as "partnerships between business and education providers bridge the skils gap for employers while encouraging and supporting current and future employees' attainment of postsecondary credentials with labor market value" (p.4)​.

Pages 6 & 7 provide a quick glance at Learn & Earn micro-business case studies. Many of these case studies cite the National Career Readiness Certificate as their essential skills credential of choice.

October 10
The Jobinator!

​I received an email yesterday from my friend and fellow advocate Marjorie Taylor, Executive Director of The Orchard Foundation in Central Louisiana (Cenla). The Orchard Foundation supports the Cenla Work Ready Network, which is a system that is designed to link education with workforce development efforts and align them with regional economic needs. Key components include WorkKeys and the National Career Readiness Certificate.  

Marjorie wrote:

"I wanted to let you know that The Jobinator is alive and well in Cenla and is scheduled to make appearances at 26 of our area high schools this school year.  Yesterday he was at Alexandria Senior High School and our local newspaper was there to cover the appearance."

Here is a link to the story:|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE


If you haven't met "The Jobinator" yet, I suggest you check out this link. Remarkable messaging channel! 

October 05
Promising Practice: Oklahoma's CRC User Conference

OKCRC USER'S CONFERENCE - Oklahoma has a strong history (since 2006) of bringing together partners, administrators, and key advocates at WorkKeys and KeyTrain User Group Conferences.  This year, on October 17, 2012, Oklahoma will be hosting the OKCRC User's Conference, a one-day event with breakout sessions and keynote speakers. 

I just spoke with Susan Kuzmic, Career Readiness Certificate (CRC) State Coordinator for Oklahoma's Department of Career and Technology Education. Susan has been a strong advocate for the Career Readiness Certificate powered by ACT's WorkKeys and she is the driving force behind the User Group conference. 

According to Susan, the conference is not just limited to Oklahoma residents. Registration is open to advocates across the nation -- for the price of a box lunch!  Click here for details on speakers and break out sessions.

To register for the conference, visit

NATIONAL HEADLINES - More exciting news from Oklahoma -- they are moving to ACT's National Registar system, which means as soon as the "sweep" is complete, Oklahoma will be on the national map with more than 80,000 certificates to date. Congratulations! 

Keep your eye on the national counter - ACT's Certified Work Ready Communities - Oklahoma.

October 01
ACT's New Website

​ACT has a newly designed website. Take a look at the new NCRC page.

A link I've found exceptionally helpful is the NCRC FAQ's​.

September 18
News You Can Use: Illinois

​Illinois is well on their way to establish the Illinois NCRC Advocates Coalition. Dick Drogosz, a member of the Coalition, wrote a great article in The Journal Standard. 

He wrote "In today’s edition of the Journal-Standard, you will find listed on page A8 the names of 473 Northwest Illinois 2012 high school graduates who deserve special recognition. Each of these graduates has earned either the Certificate of Employability (COE) and/or the National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC). We as a community should be proud of their accomplishment."​

Click here to read the full article.

September 05
Three More States Join ACT's Certified Work Ready Communities Initiative

​According to the ACT's CWRC Map, three more states are now participating in ACT's Certified Work Ready Community Initiative.

The participating states include: Oregon, Utah, Wyoming, Missouri, Kentucky, South Carolina, and Virginia.

See for yourself --​​.

August 20
News You Can Use: Washington

​A new course from Everett Community College for Airplane Assemblers.

"Students who satisfactorily complete the 12-credit course receive two certificates: a manufacturing pre-employment certificate and the National Career Readiness Certificate. They'll learn to read blueprints, to use tools and will brush up on math and communication skills.​"

Read more: Full Article

August 15
News You Can Use: Virginia

​Virginia's Community Colleges are focused on Building a Skills Credentialing System. They recently invited Martin Scaglione, president of the Workforce Development Division for ACT, to speak at the 2012 Virginia Community College Chancellor’s Annual Planning Retreat. Here are a few excerpts from an article on the event:

"Scaglione defines the major problem facing the U.S. workforce as a misalignment between the education system and the workforce system... 

Evidence of this misalignment can be seen all over the country. Businesses are getting high productivity but are coming up short on people and skills. They look for alternatives – replacing people with machinery or finding skilled workers abroad....

The demand for low skilled jobs in the U.S. is at 25 percent. A sobering 45 percent of the population fits in this category. There is a 45 percent demand for middle skilled workers which we cannot fill. The idea is that you migrate people from the low skills to middle skills. There hasn’t been a methodology for this yet." 

Eloquently put. And that is why we advocate for the Career Readiness Certificate​ powered by ACT's WorkKeys.

Read the Full Article.

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 About this blog



Kristin Ekkens, Executive Director

National CRC Advocates

About the Blogger: 
Kristin Ekkens is the Executive Director of National CRC Advocates, a national not-for-profit that is dedicated to closing the workforce skills gap in America using the National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) and related competency-based credentials. Previously, Ekkens was a program director and national consultant in workforce education, providing essential workplace skills training to managers, incumbent workers, and job seekers. The program she directed received multiple awards for quality and innovation and has received international exposure including a 2008 broadcast of ABC World News Tonight with Charles Gibson and recognition in 2011 as a best practice by Singapore Workforce Development Agency. 

Kristin is an author and presenter in the field of basic skills training, workforce education,  language learning, and cultural diversity.  She holds a master's degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from Michigan State University and a bachelor's degree with a dual major in Spanish and Linguistics from Calvin College in Michigan.