Department of Labor and Regulation

Title - Workforce Training & Education

National Career Readiness Certificate

The National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC™) is an industry-recognized, portable, evidence-based credential that certifies essential skills needed for workplace success. This credential is used across all sectors of the economy and verifies the following cognitive skills:

  • Problem solving
  • Critical thinking
  • Reading and using work-related text
  • Applying information from workplace documents to solve problems
  • Applying mathematical reasoning to work-related problems
  • Setting up and performing work-related mathematical calculations
  • Locating, synthesizing, and applying information that is presented graphically
  • Comparing, summarizing, and analyzing information presented in multiple related graphics

Individuals can earn the NCRC by taking three WorkKeys® assessments:

WorkKeys assessments measure "real world" skills that employers believe are critical to job success. Test questions are based on situations in the everyday work world. Learn more about each of the assessments and view sample questions on the ACT website.

New! View a video about the National Career Readiness Certificate on the DLR YouTube channel.

Click here to view a video about the Career Readiness Certificate on the DLR YouTube channel.

NCRC for Job Seekers

Benefits of the NCRC for Individuals

The Certificate is designed to complement other traditional credentials, such as a high school diploma, community college degree or college degree. While these education credentials mark the fulfillment of your classroom learning experiences, the NCRC proves you have the workplace skills needed to succeed at your new job. The NCRC offers individuals, employers and educators an easily understood and nationally valued credential certifying essential workplace skills.

WorkKeys Assessment

To earn a National Career Readiness Certificate, individuals must successfully complete WorkKeys assessments in Applied Mathematics, Locating Information, and Reading for Information. ACT has profiled more than 16,000 individual jobs across the country to determine the skills and skill levels needed to succeed in them. According to these ACT findings, these three skills are highly important to most jobs.

WorkKeys Foundational and Personal Skills assessments are used to provide reliable, relevant information about workplace skill levels. WorkKeys Foundational Skills assessments measure cognitive abilities such as applied mathematics, reading for information and locating information. WorkKeys Personal Skills assessments are designed to predict job behavior and measure the full potential of individuals.

WorkKeys is the leading job skills assessment system in the nation, measuring “real world” foundational skills critical to job success. These skills are valuable for any occupation—skilled or professional—and at any level of education. WorkKeys also offers job analysis to identify skills required for jobs, and training to correct skill gaps.

WorkKeys assessments are considered 'high-stakes' exams. They are proctored by a statewide network of providers contracted by the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation.

Find a WorkKeys provider in South Dakota.

Preparing for the WorkKeys Assessment: KeyTrain®

KeyTrain is a comprehensive, yet easy-to-use system for improving the basic skills measured by the WorkKeys Assessment System. Using KeyTrain, you can assess your potential WorkKeys score, review topics in each WorkKeys skill area, and practice problems similar to those on an actual WorkKeys assessment.

The KeyTrain system includes targeted, self-paced instruction, pre-and post-assessments, a complete learning management system and an occupational job profile database. These components can be used to help individuals learn, practice and demonstrate the skills they need to succeed in the jobs and career they desire.

Getting Started

For more information on how to acquire a National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC), contact any South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation local office.

Sharing Your Achievement with Employers

Share your achievement with prospective employers. (Please note: You'll need your user ID and password.) Remember to include the NCRC on your resume and to reference your achievement on job applications.

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NCRC for Employers

Using the NCRC as a Staffing Tool

  • Screening – Employers interview only applicants who have the skills required for the job.
  • Hiring and promotion – A NCRC can be used as a "plus" factor to help make selection and promotion decisions.
  • Targeting employee training and development – Employers can target their training budgets for job-specific skills rather than basic skills.

Using the NCRC for Job Profiling

Job profiling is the right approach if your organization prefers:

  • A focus group format that promotes discussion between the employees (job incumbents) and an ACT-authorized job profiler
  • A task list describing activities of the job with tasks tailored by the employees
  • A customized Job Profile Report documenting the tasks of the job, skill levels required for the job, and the qualitative reasoning behind the skill levels provided by the job incumbents
  • Results that can be used to support hiring, promotion, and training decisions

South Dakota has three ACT-trained Job Profilers who can utilize the WorkKeys assessments system to identify the skill areas and skill levels necessary per occupation:

Davin Johnson
Cornerstones Career Learning Center
Phone: 605.686.2298

Rapid City
Larry Porterfield
Career Learning Center of the Black Hills)
Phone: 605.394.5120

Sheri Duke
Southeast JobLink)

ACT has one of the largest, most robust occupational profiles databases available. More than 18,000 job titles ranging from white-collar professional to blue-collar technical positions have been profiled by ACT-authorized job profilers. Extensive research has been done on these jobs to identify the essential skills and skill levels for employee selection, hiring, and training. Identify the skills needed for your employees to be successful on the job. occupational profiles database.

Using the NCRC for Economic Development

Establishing strategies that create jobs and raise wage rates is the primary mission of economic development. Information generated by adopting the National Career Readiness System helps states and regions fulfill this mission by:

  • Documenting workforce quality for relocating and expanding businesses.
  • Providing local businesses with a better-trained workforce.
  • Helping employers plan and address existing and future employment needs.

The availability of skilled labor is becoming a major factor that helps business executives and economic development consultants identify the best locations for expansion and relocation. Information generated by the National Career Readiness Certificate represents a unique source of objective data describing workforce skills. This makes it a powerful component in strategic planning and marketing activities at the state, regional, or local levels.

Support the NCRC

As an employer, economic development manager, chamber of commerce leader or other civic leader, you can support the South Dakota NCRC project by completing an Employer Letter of Endorsement. (Download here in Microsoft Word or Adobe .pdf format*.) By completing this form and returning it to your local Department of Labor and Regulation office, you indicate your commitment to making sure that maintaining and improving South Dakota's workforce is important. Here is a list of those business, groups and organizations who have agreed to Stand Up for a skilled workforce in South Dakota.

Advance Services Inc. – Sioux City, IA
Aegis Food Testing Laboratories – N. Sioux City, SD
Alorica – N. Sioux City, SD
Applied Engineering – Yankton
Argosy Casino – Sioux City, IA
Baldwin Filters – Yankton
Benchmark Foam – Watertown, SD
Black Hills Special Services Cooperative –Rapid City, SD
City of North Sioux City, SD
Codington County – Watertown, SD
CompUSA – N. Sioux City, SD
Dakota Dunes Community Improvement District – Dakota Dunes, SD
Dakota PC Warehouse – Vermillion, SD
Deadwood Biofuel – Rapid City, SD
Fletcher Farms – Akron, IA
GreenTree Finance – Rapid City, SD
IMKO Diversified Workforce Solutions – Sioux City, IA
Kmart – Yankton
Las Amigos Restaurant – ElkPoint, SD
Lehman Trikes USA– Spearfish, SD
Mark’s Machinery – Yankton
Mitchell Iron & Supply – Mitchell, SD
Nutraflo – Sioux City, IA
Polaris – Vermillion, SD
Portionables, Inc. – N. Sioux City, SD
SDSU-Beresford Experiment Station
Spearfish Forest Products – Spearfish, SD
Stream Global Services – Sergeant Bluff, IA
Stream Global Services – Vermillion, SD
Walmart – Yankton
Waste Connections/Novak Sanitary – Sioux City, IA
Watertown Area Transit Inc – Watertown, SD
Wells Enterprises – LeMars, IA

If you’re a South Dakota employer and you would like to join this effort in recognizing, recommending or preferring the NCRC as a way to ensure you are hiring a certified & skilled workforce, please complete the Employer Letter of Endorsement. (Download here in Microsoft Word or Adobe .pdf format*.)

Work Ready Communities

The goal of creating WorkReady communities using the National Career Readiness Certificate program is to empower communities with actionable data and specific workforce goals that drive both economic growth and development. By participating in the NCRC project and completing the WorkKeys Assessments, communities can gather data which identifies current and future foundational skill levels. This skill level data can then be used to target training efforts, improve high school graduation rates, educate individuals and businesses on the value of an NCRC, or be related to address other specific local workforce issues. Utilizing the NCRC system not only identifies the skills, but also provides a framework to how those skills can be maintained or improved.


NCRC - flier

NCRC – "Stand Up for a Skilled Workforce" brochure (for employers)

NCRC - "Stand Out from the Crowd" brochure (for job seekers)

NCRC - "Core Assessments for Certification" booklet

Other Resources

ACT website - for more information on the NCRC and WorkKeys

KeyTrain website

South Dakota Contacts for More Information

Scott Kwasniewski – Program Specialist (East area - Brookings) 605.688.4350

Barb Unruh – Program Specialist (West area - Pierre) 605.773.3101

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Marcia Hultman, Secretary
700 Governors Drive
Pierre, SD 57501-2291
Tel. 605.773.3101
Fax. 605.773.6184