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Understanding the CRC


Why Do We Need a Career Readiness Certificate in Virginia?

Virginia businesses compete in a global marketplace and must deliver the highest quality of goods and services at the most economical price. In order for businesses to do this, they must hire the most capable and productive employees available to form their workforce. Workplace skill is the over-whelming criteria for determining who is hired, promoted or, in some cases, separated. Businesses want to be, and in fact, must be sure that their hiring criteria are valid instruments for assessing workplace skills, reliable predictors of workplace abilities and meet all compliance policies and laws. Individuals who seek employment must effectively communicate to potential employers the skills and abilities they offer. The CRC serves both the needs of the employer and job-seekers.

How Was the CRC Developed and Why Is It Valid?

The Career Readiness Certificate is result of the use of ACT’s WorkKeys® system with over 1,000 Virginia employers since 1995. The WorkKeys system was developed by ACT (formerly American College Testing) to meet the demand from business and industry for a reliable screening tool that could help employers identify the best candidates based on the work-related skills available to the individual that would help the employee be productive and successful in the job. This “system” approach by ACT resulted in three distinct pieces to WorkKeys. These pieces include:

PROFILES (Job or Occupational)

These extensive, highly structured job-analysis processes involve working with a panel of Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to identify all of the tasks required for the successful execution of a job or occupation. With the tasks identified, the SMEs then work through a facilitated process to quantify the level of skill required in eight skill areas including:

  • Reading for Information
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Locating Information
  • Applied Technology
  • Writing
  • Teamwork
  • Observation
  • Listening

As a result of this process, an employer now has an excellent picture of the skills profile that is needed when a new employee is hired.


With the job or occupational profile in hand, the employer now knows what to seek in employees. To determine if an individual possesses those profiled skills at the desired levels, a set of valid and reliable assessments were developed using the same scale or metric as the profiles. These assessments are 100% compliant with EEO and ADA laws. The assessments test workplace skills and use situations and scenarios that occur in the workplace. Participants readily recognize that these are not academic questions but rather problem-solving situations that occur everyday in America’s workplaces.


The final piece of the WorkKeys system is the curriculum that will help individuals close the gaps where necessary. These curricula modules allow individuals to target training efforts exactly where needed and where there will be a true benefit and an ability to learn. While ACT does not provide these curricula there are several national companies that have responded with excellent online and traditional curricula. The Virginia Community College System and the Virginia Workforce Council and its Workforce Network have the two most used systems, KeyTrain® and WIN® available to all community college and one-stop participants. These training programs can be made available absolutely free to Virginia residents registered in community college or workforce programs.

Where Does the CRC Come into Play?

After several years of working with the WorkKeys system throughout Virginia and having completed over 1,000 profiles and tens of thousands of assessments, it became obvious that there were three assessments that were almost universally used by all employers. Every job seemed to require a level of skill in Reading for Information, Applied Mathematics and Locating Information. Working with ACT, we found that this was true across the country in the 18,000 plus profiles completed nationwide. Virginia needed to expand this tool beyond the 1000 companies that had completed profiles to include the tens of thousands of small companies that create economic success across the state. Investigating those top three skill areas we found that if a person could score at level three, that set of skills would enable the individual to be successful in about 35% of the jobs profiled nationally. If that individual scored at level four in those skill areas, the skill set would signify an ability to be successful in about 65% of the jobs nationally and if level five was achieved in the three areas, success was likely in 85-90% of the jobs. The correlation of skills to workplace success became obvious and the Career Readiness Certificate was launched under the signature of the Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

How Does the Virginia CRC Compare with the National Career Readiness Certificate?

The National Career Readiness Certificate is actually a result of the success of Virginia’s CRC. The scoring criteria are exactly identical and qualification for one is synonymous with the other. An individual with a Virginia CRC can take that credential and use it in any state in the nation that recognizes the National CRC. Likewise, an employer in Virginia should recognize a National CRC as identical to Virginia’s CRC.