Frequently Asked Questions

Questions about the initiative

  • 1. What is the ACT Work Ready Communities initiative? The ACT Work Ready Communities (WRC) initiative is a national effort, led by ACT, to provide a framework for states, regions and communities to build an economic development, community based approach grounded in certifying counties as Work Ready. It may also be referred to as the Work Ready Communities (WRC) initiative. States or ACT award this certification when counties achieve goals (based on common criteria) of individuals in the workforce earning an ACT WorkKeys National Career Readiness Certificate and businesses recognizing, preferring or recommending the ACT WorkKeys NCRC. States may add additional criteria to their unique initiatives. The website provides documents outlining the initiative. Please click on the “Resources” tab at the bottom of the Home page and select “About the WRC Initiative.”
  • 2. What is the process for States to become involved? There is an application that must be completed and submitted. As part of the application process, a state leadership team will need to be established. Please go to the website and click on 'Resources' tab on the home page. Then click 'How to get engaged.' This will provide more information on the process and a link to the most recent application.
  • 3. What does it mean for a state to be actively participating in the ACT WRC Initiative? It means the statewide leadership team has applied and been accepted into the ACT WRC Academy - the Academy is the mechanism by which ACT engages with states. The application is available on the website and will be updated periodically.
  • 4. Can a county or a region apply? Yes! ACT is now accepting applications from individual counties to participate in the WRC initiative as part of a new pilot program. More information, including a one-pager and application, are available at
  • 5. How does a county participate in the Work Ready Community process? States accepted into the ACT WRC Academy develop a process to "on board" counties as "participating." When a county comes on board via the state process (which may vary from state to state - please check with your state WRC leadership team), the state notifies ACT -- then ACT marks the county as "participating" on the WRC website. Counties may also apply to participate directly in a new pilot program with ACT if there is not an active state-level WRC program in place.
  • 6. What are the certification criteria and how were they developed? For more information on the common criteria, please reference the "Common Criteria" and "About the Criteria" documents.
  • 7. Who certifies a county? Each participating state establishes county level goals through the WRC Academy that include the common ACT WRC county goals, and may include additional goals specific to each state. When a county surpasses the common WRC goals, ACT notifies the participating state leadership team.
    Participating states confer the Work Ready Community status to the participating county. After that point, the county moves from "participating" to "certified" on the WRC website. For counties participating in the pilot county program, ACT is working with the National Workforce Solution Advisory Board on most appropriate process and entity to certify the county.
  • 8. What does it mean when a county gets certified? A county becomes eligible for WRC status when it has met its ACT WorkKeys NCRC and business engagement common criteria goals PLUS what, if any, additional state criteria are in place for certification (additional state criteria would only apply for counties in participating states). The WRC recognition means a county has a system in place to provide employers' irrefutable data that it can deliver a quality workforce with the skills employers need.
  • 9. What happens after initial certification? After communities achieve their initial certification, they will have the opportunity to continue to maintain this certification in partnership with their state and with ACT. This ensures that a community continues its process toward measuring, certifying and improving the skill level of its workforce.
  • 10. What does it mean for a business to be engaged? A business can indicate its support by signing up on the WRC website. In order for a business to be counted as one whole business, it must have at least five employees at a physical location in the county in question. If a business has greater than 100 employees, it may be also count toward the goals for the surrounding counties. For businesses with less than five employees, four will count as one whole business to be applied toward county goals. This functionality only exists for states participating in the ACT WRC initiative.
  • 11. Who can sign a business up? Anyone authorized to act on the business' behalf can visit the WRC website and fill out the online form indicating their support. ACT reserves the right to verify participating businesses prior to posting on the website. Again, this functionality is only available to businesses in states actively participating in the ACT WRC initiative.

About the data

  • 12. How often is the data updated? ACT WorkKeys NCRC county data will be updated monthly, typically mid-month. Data posted reflects the certificates counted through the last day of the previous calendar month.
  • 13. Why are you not showing data greater than zero and less than four? We did not want to release any individually identifiable information. Therefore, any ACT WorkKeys NCRCs fewer than four are represented by a +.
  • 14. I am aware that my state has more ACT WorkKeys NCRCs than are reflected on this website. Why are they not showing up here? The state page reports the ACT WorkKeys NCRCs issued since 2006 created and stored in the ACT RegiSTAR system. The county page reports ACT WorkKeys NCRCs earned via computer based testing after Jan. 1, 2012 and created/stored in the RegiSTAR system. Beginning July 1, 2012, ACT WorkKeys NCRCs earned via paper and pencil will be included in the county page reports. The WRC website does not include state CRCs based on WorkKeys that are not ACT WorkKeys NCRCs created and stored in RegiSTAR.
  • 15. What is considered a counted certificate? In order to be counted towards a community's certification goals, the assessment taker must have provided his or her county of residence and current workforce status. If the assessment is taken via WKIV, the examinee is required to provide this information. If the assessment is taken via the paper answer sheet, then the examinee will provide demographic information if the WK administrator ensures it has been collected.
    The ACT WorkKeys NCRC must also be stored in RegiSTAR.
  • 16. May I have a print out of state or county level data in an excel file? Print functionality is online now for county-level data.
  • 17. Is it possible to get county level data for states that are not participating? County level data is presented for all 50 states. However, Work Ready Community goals are only available for participating states and individual counties participating in the county-level pilot program.
  • 18. What does the ACT WorkKeys NCRC Plus mean, and how does that relate to a community's goals? The ACT WorkKeys NCRC Plus includes a personal skills assessment - also known as a soft skills assessment. ACT WorkKeys NCRC Plusses do count toward the total ACT WorkKeys NCRCs earned in support of a community's goals.
  • 19. Do the National totals on the home page reflect ACT WorkKeys NCRC-Plus certificates? Yes.
  • 20. What does the "percent WKIV" mean? The WorkKeys assessments are offered via a pencil and paper format and also a computer-based format known as WKIV - WorkKeys Internet Version. The ability for an examinee to take the WorkKeys assessments via a computer is an indicator of computer literacy. If an examinee took all three assessments via WKIV, then that ACT WorkKeys NCRC counts in the percent earned WKIV calculation.
  • 21. Will ACT post specific data on US Territories? At this time, we only have data for the 50 states. However, we plan to expand to territories in the future.
  • 22. What do we mean by the emerging, transitioning and current workforce? Emerging workforce consists of high school juniors and seniors, college students (can be technical, vocational, community college or four-year college programs), and recent graduates (within the last 12 months).
    Transitioning workforce means currently unemployed or currently participating in an adult education or GED program (or recent completed within the last 12 months).
    Current workforce means currently employed in either the private or public sector. Information about recent veterans (discharged within the last 12 months) is also captured; veterans will be counted in the transitioning workforce category.
  • 23. What is an improved certificate and how is that counted? When an individual re-takes an assessment and earns a new ACT WorkKeys NCRC at a higher level (for example, moving from not earned to bronze, or from silver to gold), ACT captures and reports that information as an improved certificate. It is a measure of the number of individuals who are closing their own skills gaps. Beginning July 1, 2012, ACT will begin to report at the county level every improved ACT WorkKeys NCRC.
  • 24. How are you capturing an individual's county of residence and current employment status? At the time of assessment, test-takers are asked to self-identify their county of residence and current employment status. They may only select one option for current workforce status -- they are instructed to select the option that best describes them.
  • 25. What if an individual's county of residence or current employment status changes? The county of residence and current workforce status data is designed to be a snapshot in time when the certificate holder took the assessment and earned an ACT WorkKeys NCRC. There is no way to update this unless the individual retakes at least one WorkKeys assessment. HOWEVER, if an individual retakes an assessment and earns a NEW certificate at a higher level, then any updates to county of residence or current workforce status would be reflected in our reports.
  • 26. What happens if an examinee does not complete the county of residence or current status on a paper answer document? If the county of residence and current status information is missing the ACT WorkKeys NCRC earned by the individual will not count towards a county's goals.