That Extra Job Market EdgeThat Extra Job Market Edge

That Extra Job Market Edge

Are you ready for work? We mean, really ready for all the responsibilities that a job has to offer, from getting there on time to getting along with your coworkers? Employers have been saying for years that it's tough to find qualified help with these types of soft skills; sometimes they have to interview as many as 12 people for one entry-level position.

The world of workforce development to the rescue! The New Jersey State Employment & Training Commission (SETC) and its partners who understand the job market and how to make better employers and employees have helped to develop and support the National Work Readiness Credential (WRC), the first national standards-based assessment for entry-level workers. This is a test that tells how well job seekers can handle situational judgment, oral language, reading and using math. It assesses such skills as listening actively and making decisions.

"When a person takes the test and earns the credential, he or she will get a piece of paper that they can bring to an employer," explains the SETC's Judith Formalarie. "We are looking forward to the day when all employers will recognize this credential as valuable and say, ‘OK, now I know if I'm hiring this person I'm not just taking a gamble. He has the skills, knowledge and ability that are needed by me to be a successful entry-level employee.'"

The credential's assessment has four modules-situational judgment, oral language, reading and using math-that can be completed separately or all together. It assesses whether the test-taker can use nine skills well enough to carry out critical entry-level tasks and responsibilities. These are the skills that are critical for entry-level workers to succeed in today's workplace. They are:

1. Speak so others can understand

2. Listen actively

3. Solve problems and make decisions

4. Cooperate with others

5. Resolve conflicts and negotiate

6. Observe critically

7. Take responsibility for learning

8. Read with understanding

9. Use math to solve problems

The National Work Readiness Credential test, which is Web-based, is now available at 50 sites nationally and six sites in New Jersey for a beta test of the system. Look for a full launch everywhere in spring 2007. The good news, says Formalarie, is that it's portable. If you earn the credential in Mercer County, you can take it to Florida or Texas and employers will recognize it. Teenage students shouldn't be surprised if these credential-related subject areas become part of their high school curriculum in an effort to get them ready for jobs and careers. While the Work Readiness Credential will never be a graduation requirement, it is a great way to learn whether or not high school students have all the necessary soft skills to succeed in their lives after high school, and then to prepare them for what's ahead. Find out more at