Career Prep Certificate

Quick Links

*All bullets in the green bars below

  • Academic and Work Readiness Components
  • Advisory Committee
  • Assessments
  • Documentation and Participation
  • Local Planning and Implementation Guide
  • State/National Certificates
  • What Works!
  • Workforce Investment Boards

New Certificate Program for Missouri High School Seniors

The Missouri General Assembly passed legislation (L. 2006 S.B. 894) which charged the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to develop a program that enables high schools to endorse a certificate for students who meet certain standards that demonstrate that the students are "ready to work." The program is designed to be voluntary in nature and for high school seniors that choose to participate.

In developing the program, the Department established a statewide advisory committee comprised of representatives from employers, chambers of commerce, local workforce service providers, school administrators, postsecondary education, counselors, and students. The group was charged with developing the following program components:

  • Academic
  • Work readiness
  • Assessment tools and techniques for a third-party, independent, and objectives assessment and endorsement of individual student achievement through an existing workforce investment service delivery system
  • An easily identifiable guarantee to potential employers that the entry-level employee is ready to work

The group met monthly to develop the program components, utilizing Web conferencing technology for five of the meetings. A number of additional guests participated in meetings by presenting and lending their expertise to planning efforts. Representatives from ACT and the National Work Readiness Council also participated and provided insight to the promotion and development of their national certificates.

The planning guide serves as a framework for communities, large or small, to design a program that meets the needs of their employers.

Program Benefits

The following are benefits that a successful Career Prep Certificate Program could offer to individuals and communities:


  • Match individual knowledge and skills to occupational expectations, regardless of educational requirements
  • Match individual interests and preparation with job opportunities
  • Focus exploration and preparation by career paths
  • Document an individual’s mastery of knowledge and skills
  • Promote postsecondary education and training based on personal plan of study
  • Further postsecondary education and training supported by work-based experiences
  • Emphasize the importance of academic and work readiness components
  • Provide credentials that are valued and requested by employers and colleges


  • Connect knowledge, skills, and testing for education and employers
  • Predict readiness of individuals for work and college
  • Require fewer resources for remediation and basic skills training
  • Apprise the business community of the assessments currently used to assess knowledge and skills
  • Improve job satisfaction, driving increased productivity and decreased turnover
  • Verify entry-level workers’ knowledge and skills
  • Identify real-world knowledge and skills needed by local and regional business
  • Match individual knowledge and skills to occupational expectations, regardless of educational requirements
  • Build stronger interdependency between education and employers
  • Increase in partnership activity, communication, and support
  • Foster a better educated and trained workforce
  • Support economic and workforce development

Academic and Work Readiness Components

In the fall of 2006, the statewide advisory committee reviewed pertinent research and recent curriculum organizers to identify academic and work readiness components. Different stakeholder groups were surveyed to determine the most important components to the world of work. Based on the survey results, the committee identified 12 academic and work readiness components, which are linked to key curriculum drivers in Missouri schools.

The academic components were identified and cross-referenced with Missouri’s Show-Me Standards and Grade-Level Expectations. These components include:

  • Applied Math
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Communication: Verbal, Written, and Listening
  • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
  • Information Technology
  • Gather/Evaluate Information

The work readiness components were identified and cross-referenced with Missouri’s Career Development Standards and Grade-Level Expectations within the Missouri Comprehensive Guidance Program. These components include:

  • Career Development and Planning
  • Professional and Ethical Behavior
  • Personal Accountability
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Self-Direction and Self-Management
  • Lifelong Learning
Advisory Committee

In developing the Career Prep Certificate Program, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education established a statewide advisory committee in fall of 2006. It was comprised of representatives from employers, chambers of commerce, local workforce service providers and postsecondary institutions, as well as school administrators, counselors, and students. The group was charged with developing components of the program.

The advisory committee and invited guests included:

  • Nicole Adewale
    President, ABNA Engineering
  • Garland Barton
    HR Manager, DRS Sustainment Systems
  • Bob Bush
    President, Bush & Associates Inc.
  • Ingrid Caldwell
    Supervisor, A+ Schools, DESE
  • Maureen Clancy-May
    Superintendent, Bayless School District
  • Don Claycomb
    President, Linn State Technical College
  • Steve Coffman
    Director, Employment Training, DESE
  • Joan Clouse
    Counselor, Saline County Career Center
  • Mike Cowan
    Principal, Cape Girardeau High School
  • Cindy Crouse
    Counselor, St. Joseph School District
  • Joan Davis
    Project Coordinator, CHARACTERplus, Branson
  • Lynn Dutton
    Manager, Full Employment Council
  • Don Eisinger
    Coordinator, Adult Education, DESE
  • Melissa Eitel
    A+ Schools Coordinator, Kirksville High School
  • Lisa Essig
    Owner, McDonalds, Liberty and Kearney
  • Mary Fangman
    Superintendent, Marshall Habilitation Center
  • John Gaal
    Director, Carpenter District Council of St. Louis
  • Natasha Garrison
    Student, Linn State Technical College, former State President, SkillsUSA
  • Barb Gilpin
    Supervisor, Special Education Effective Practices, DESE
  • Rick Gronniger
    HR Manager, Altec Industries
  • Glenda Hammond
    HR Manager, Aquila
  • Sue Head
    Director, Keeter Center, College of the Ozarks
  • Rose Marie Hopkins
    Director, Missouri Training and Employment Council
  • Marty Jacobs
    Principal, Liberty High School
  • Jacob Johnson
    President, Manufacturing Training Alliance
  • Tom Jones
    WIB Director, SLATE Career Center
  • Cathy Keeney
    HR Manager, Royal Canin
  • Zach Kinne
    Student, University of Missouri-Columbia, former State President, FFA
  • Symone Langston-Thomas
    Counselor, Columbia-Hickman High School
  • Dave Lankford
    Vice President, Missouri Chamber of Commerce
  • Brad Lau
    Vice President, St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce
  • Matt Lindsey
    Principal, Holden High School
  • Keith Maxey
    Principal, Blue Springs South High School

Numerous effective assessments are available to determine individual knowledge and skill levels. Missouri schools use criterion- and norm-referenced assessment results to document mastery of specific academic knowledge and skills. However, few assessments address work-readiness behaviors and characteristics. Employers may use assessments to determine an individual’s desirable and undesirable characteristics. However, these may not be appropriate for schools to administer.

Several of the most prevalent and promising assessments in Missouri schools were analyzed and aligned to the academic and work readiness components. The assessment summary was developed with assistance from each of the sponsoring companies and organizations. Each assessment was cross-referenced to the underlying knowledge and performance expectations for each component. A more detailed analysis of assessments is recommended in determining the most appropriate selection for a local or regional program.

  • Missouri Assessment Program (listed below)
  • PreACT (listed below)
  • Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (listed below)
  • ACT WorkKeys (listed below)
  • National Occupational Competency Testing Institute (listed below)
  • Assessment Summary

Missouri Assessment Program

The Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) is one of several educational reforms mandated by state law in 1993. The law directed the State Board of Education and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to identify the knowledge, skills, and competencies that Missouri students should acquire by the time they complete high school, and to evaluate student progress toward those academic standards.

In February 2007, the State Board of Education approved a change in the method of MAP testing in the high school grades. Beginning with the 2008-09 school year, end-of-course tests in algebra I, English II and biology will replace the current MAP exams used in grades 10 and 11. Eventually, end-of-course tests will be offered for the following subjects:

Geometry and Algebra II
English I
Chemistry and Physical Science
American Government and American History

The ACT test assesses high school students’ general educational development and their ability to complete college-level work. The multiple-choice test covers four skill areas: English, mathematics, reading, and science. The writing test, which is optional, measures skill in planning and writing a short essay. Both tests emphasize reasoning, analysis, problem solving, and the integration of learning from various sources, as well as the application of these proficiencies to the kinds of tasks that college students are expected to perform.


PreACT® assessments offer 8th, 9th, and 10th graders an early experience with ACT test items, provides a predicted ACT test score, and offers a wealth of information to help students get the start they need to be college ready. 

Anchored on the ACT college and career readiness standards, PreACT assessments help educators, students, and parents, identify areas of academic strength and opportunity. Students may opt to have their information shared with colleges and scholarship agencies when they take PreACT 8/9, PreACT, or PreACT Secure, providing greater opportunities for recruitment and scholarship awards.  

Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery

The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) is a comprehensive career exploration and planning program that includes a multiple aptitude test battery, an interest inventory, and various career-planning tools designed to help students explore the world of work. The ASVAB is intended for use with students in the 10th, 11th, and 12th grades as well as students in postsecondary schools. The program provides tools, including the test battery and interest inventory, developed by the Department of Defense to help students across the nation learn more about career exploration and planning.


ACT’s WorkKeys is a job skills assessment system that assesses selected work competencies. WorkKeys measures foundational skills required for success in the workplace, and help measure the workplace skills that can affect job performance.  Find more information about WorkKeys assessments here.

National Occupational Competency Testing Institute

The National Occupational Competency Testing Institute (NOCTI) provides occupational competency assessment products and services to secondary and postsecondary educational institutions. NOCTI offers more than 170 standardized technical assessments in a variety of occupational fields. The assessments are built upon nationally validated, workplace-based standards.

Missouri Connections

Missouri Connections is an online resource designed to guide students through the career planning and preparation process. The system is designed to ease students into college and career exploration, and direct preparation for transition into postsecondary education and the world of work. The assessments, which are integral components of the system, define personal interests, skills, and work values. This information can then be utilized to focus on career possibilities. Students develop a flexible personal plan of study of coursework, including school and community experiences, which help them gain the knowledge and skills that relate to their career interests. In addition, Missouri Connections provides for a lifelong online e-portfolio in which a record of career exploration, planning, assessment, work experience, and academic achievement can be stored and updated.

Documentation and Participation

While schools have experience in assessing academic components, there are challenges in assessing career prep components. Employers could use assessments to determine an individual’s desirable and undesirable characteristics, however these might not be appropriate for schools to administer.

Given these challenges, there are ways to determine and document past experience as it relates to individual work readiness behaviors and characteristics. Ideally, desirable behaviors and characteristics displayed in the school setting should carry over to the workplace. Below are a few examples in which individual behavior and performance can be documented.

Attendance and punctuality are reflections of the student’s perception and experience of school. Schools have well-documented attendance records typically coded with absences (authorized or unauthorized). If asked, school administrators, counselors, and teachers will have a greater record and understanding of the students who maintain good records of attendance and completion of assignments.

Awards and recognition provide a reflection of an individual’s abilities, talents, and leadership. Even lesser-known citizenship or community based accomplishments provide insight into an individual’s potential.

Volunteer and community service refer to service that a person performs for the benefit of his or her local community. Individuals are often involved in volunteer activities and community service for unselfish reasons.

Job shadowing and internship experiences provide an opportunity for a person to gain insights into specific occupations in the workplace. This helps the individual learn more about specific careers and prepare for the required education/training. Job shadowing and internships are a great business and education partnership opportunity.

Mentoring/tutoring is the process of matching younger students with older students. The mentoring process can be a developmental relationship providing motivation, guidance, and support to everyday challenges. Tutoring can be similar in nature although more focus is directed toward improving academic knowledge and understanding.

Pre-employment skills such as mock interviews, résumés and letters of application are a great way to practice individual skills and get feedback from a career development professional on ways to improve. With appropriate training and preparation, individuals will be able to identify and search for jobs, apply for positions appropriately, be more comfortable with the interview process, and have the skills to help maintain employment.

Local Planning and Implementation Guide

CPC Program Planning Guide
CPC Brochure - Full Color
CPC Brochure - 2 Color

There are many helpful tips and techniques to develop a successful Career Prep Certificate Program. Many of the issues that will be faced during implementation may have already been experienced and are addressed in this guide. The following planning and implementation steps are provided to assist with the process.

Establish an Advisory Committee

Since this program must be demand-driven by employers, it is critical that everyone be brought around the table. The role and empowerment of the advisory committee will be helpful in developing the program locally and monitoring its successes. Carefully consider representation from all stakeholder groups: employers, chambers of commerce, postsecondary education, workforce service providers, school administrators, counselors, parents, and students. It might be beneficial to select an impartial or third-party chairperson to facilitate consensus. It is recommended that the local chamber of commerce and regional Workforce Investment Board be contacted to identify resources and coordinate services. Please contact the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Career Education Division at (573) 751-2660 for assistance with this process.

Develop a Planning Process and Timeline

Establish a procedure to develop all components of the program. Utilize a strategic planning approach with committee involvement throughout a clearly defined process. Carefully consider the appropriateness of participation for representatives from each stakeholder group (for example, community leaders might have limited availability to participate). Establish a timeline with sufficient time to accomplish all objectives and make efficient use of committee participation.

Academic and Work Readiness Components

The academic and work readiness components(see above) were identified by the state advisory committee. All are cross referenced to Missouri’s Show-Me Standards, Academic Grade-Level Expectations and Comprehensive Guidance Grade-Level Expectations. It is important to carefully review the knowledge and performance expectations underlying each component.

From that review, select and prioritize the components that best meet local or regional needs. Conduct a local or regional survey with different stakeholder groups to identify and/or verify the components and expectations.

Identify Assessments

Use the assessment summary(see Assessments bar above) to identify existing or potential assessments to address the components. A number of assessments and surveys are available commercially or through government agencies. Assessments can be packaged to demonstrate mastery of most components. If an additional assessment is warranted, a thorough analysis of available resources should be conducted.

Alignment with state or national certification will also require additional assessment costs. Employers, groups, or organizations might be willing to defray these costs as an incentive to attract qualified entry-level employees. If the program is truly demand-driven, with employers requiring the certificate for application, the individual test taker may be willing to pay for additional assessments. Similarly, colleges have created a system that drives students and parents to pay for assessments and retakes.

Develop the Certificate and Other Documentation and Participation

It is important that the program make available an easy-to-understand certificate that provides employers with information and documentation of individual accomplishments. The front of the certificate can be formal with general information, seals and signature. The back of the certificate makes it “portable” to employers who might not be aware of the program. This is accomplished by providing any of the following information:

  • assessment results
  • grade point average and courses taken
  • attendance rate
  • academic skills and competency
  • work readiness skills and competency
  • hours of community service, mentoring and tutoring
  • participation in extracurricular organizations and activities
  • other training and experiences

Align with Existing Programs and Initiatives (as appropriate)

There are numerous state/local programs and initiatives that have been implemented in Missouri schools. Some have similar goals or structures and could be packaged with components of this program. When developing a program, incorporate resources from existing programs and initiatives whenever possible. By capitalizing on existing resources, the amount of new components (requiring additional resources) can be limited.

A+ Schools Program

While schools have limited experience in assessing work readiness components, the A+ Schools program has established requirements for students to demonstrate appropriate behaviors. The positive characteristics demonstrated in the school may transfer over to the workplace.

Students who graduate from a designated A+ high school may qualify for a state-paid financial incentive to attend any public community college or career/technical school in Missouri if the students successfully meet the following requirements:

  • enter into a written agreement with the high school prior to graduation
  • attend a designated school for three consecutive years immediately prior to graduation
  • graduate with an overall GPA of 2.5 points or higher on a 4-point scale
  • have an overall attendance rate of at least 95 percent for grades 9-12
  • perform 50 hours of district-supervised, unpaid tutoring or mentoring
  • maintain a record of good citizenship and avoid the use of drugs and alcohol

The financial incentive is available only after the student has made a good faith effort to first secure all available federal financial aid that does not require repayment through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. (For more information, see What Works!)

Character Education

Character education encourages schools to create environments that foster ethical, responsible, and caring young people. This proactive effort by schools instills important core, ethical values in students. As a result, students become more aware of their own personal values and how these values relate to the world outside of school.

Missouri’s program, CHARACTERplus, provides a framework and an opportunity for home, school, and community members to positively influence students’ character development. Because the community selects and defines the traits, business leaders have a voice in determining what traits they would like to see developed in their future employees.

Results from high-implementing schools indicate that students have an increase in personal responsibility, accountability, self-management, and ethical behavior. These schools also experience a decrease in disciplinary issues, an increase in attendance, an increase in academic skills, and a decrease in the drop-out rate.

With this process, schools are more likely to provide students and adults with increased opportunities to carry out moral actions. There is an emphasis on adult role modeling, student leadership, service-learning, recognition of good character, peer mentoring, and positive behavior. Because traits are integrated throughout the school day, throughout the community, and at home, students have multiple reinforcements of the traits. Thus, the standard of behavioral expectation increases.

Align with State/National Certificates (as appropriate)

A number of national credentials (academic, occupational licenses, professional-skill certificates) are already in use in Missouri. However, there is limited use of a credential that contains both academic and work readiness components. There are several benefits (i.e., standardization, portability) in aligning a local program with a national certificate. There are two national certificates receiving a lot of attention: the National Career Readiness Certificate and the National Work Readiness Credential.

Determine Parameters of a Guarantee

Incorporating a guarantee into the program can be a useful tool that assures stakeholders of a specific outcome. Schools can strengthen an existing partnership with employers by defining and identifying components of a guarantee, which at a minimum is limited to the documented assessment of knowledge and skills.

Schools may use standardized assessment results to document mastery of specific academic and work readiness skills. Both criterion- and norm-referenced assessments provide valuable information related to individual knowledge and skill levels. However, the retention of knowledge and the application of skills may or may not be transferable to the workplace. It is important for employers and schools to pay careful attention to the duration of any guarantee of performance beyond the time that skills are assessed.

Promote the Program and Build A Demand-Driven System

In developing a demand-driven system, it is critical to determine strategies to increase awareness and encourage interest in the program. Focused efforts to target audiences are recommended. (For more information, see What Works!, Pages 16.) Program promotion starts with increasing awareness throughout the community. Consider the following when promoting the program.

  • Determine for each audience, “what’s in it for me?”
  • Focus on clearly defined goals and activities that address each audience’s needs.
  • Develop a list of stakeholders through personal contacts and organizations.
  • Develop a succinct tagline (i.e., Ready to Work, Guarantee) that will assist in branding the program.
  • Target materials and messages to different audiences.
  • Follow up in person or by phone

The process will be more successful by involving stakeholders throughout the planning and development of the program. Establishing an effective partnership takes patience, commitment, open communication, and an investment of time. An existing partnership can be strengthened by building an environment where businesses and schools collaborate and share resources.

Monitor for Continuous Improvement

Demands for the certificate from employers and postsecondary institutions will drive the success and longevity of the program. There are ways to monitor the success of the initiative and determine the impact on meeting local and regional needs. The following data and information provide results to assist in making adjustments and improvements to the program:

  • employer satisfaction survey data
  • certification required for entry-level positions
  • employment and education follow-up data (180-day, one year, and two years after graduation)
  • return on investment data (unemployment, vacancies, turn-over, training, etc.)
  • postsecondary remedial education
  • participation data (number of certificates, number of employers)

The key to success is listening to all stakeholders on an ongoing basis. It is essential to learn from feedback and use it to improve the process, performance, and results.

State/National Certificates

Sample CPC Certificate

Missouri/National Career Readiness Certificate

A product of ACT Inc., WorkKeys is a job skills assessment system that offers Career Readiness Certificates (CRCs) to individuals who achieve adequate scores on tests of core work competencies. The Missouri Department of Economic Development (DED) has started statewide implementation of the Missouri CRC for the adult workforce. The DED is planning to locate testing centers throughout the 14 regions of the state.

The Missouri and National CRCs are based on the levels Gold (5), Silver (4), and Bronze (3), attained on the three WorkKeys assessments: Reading for Information, Applied Mathematics, and Locating Information. While employers and organizations most commonly use the three CRC tests, they may also opt to use the other six WorkKeys assessments: Applied Technology, Writing, Business Writing, Teamwork, Observation, and Listening.

National Work Readiness Credential

The National Work Readiness Credential (NWRC), endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is based on a strong foundation of critical employability skills. The credential is awarded to test takers who pass an assessment consisting of four modules: Read with Understanding, Math for Decision Making, Oral Language Test, and Situational Judgment. The National Work Readiness Council has contracted with CASTLE Worldwide to deliver and manage the assessment. The National Work Readiness Credential has recently been launched in sites around the country and Junior Achievement Worldwide.

What Works!

*All bullets listed below

  • "First PLACE" – Partners Linking Arms for Character Education
  • A+ Schools Program
  • Northwest Regional Culture of Character
  • St. Joseph Guarantees Its Graduates
  • Cape Girardeau Area Ready to Work

"First PLACE"

The Keeter Center for Character Education is leading a countywide character education initiative in partnership with all public schools in Taney County, Mo. The initiative is called “First PLACE! – Partners Linking Arms for Character Education.” The 17 school buildings in Taney County each sent a team through CHARACTERplus training at The Keeter Center. Each team was comprised of a school building administrator, a counselor, a teacher, a community member, and another teacher or board member. This character education is a process instead of a program; it is ongoing and incorporates 10 essentials in drawing together a comprehensive plan that focuses on school, home, and community.

The First PLACE initiative has three goals:

  1. improve school climate to positively impact achievement, attendance, discipline, and dropout rate
  2. cultivate visible community support
  3. increase parent participation and awareness in character development.

In April 2005, an official kickoff was held with community members and school representatives gathered together for a town hall meeting. Nine traits were selected to represent Taney County: respect, responsibility, citizenship, compassion/kindness, commitment, honesty, cooperation, perseverance, and self-discipline. After the first year, three summer traits were selected to round out the yearly schedule.

Not only are schools implementing numerous ways to incorporate the trait of the month into the classroom, but 355 businesses and civic organizations, as well as churches and community leaders, have become intentional about teaching and demonstrating good character. Anyone can sign up to be a partner as long as he or she is committed to do one thing each month to reinforce the trait of the month. That might be putting the trait on a marquee, in a newsletter, or on a Web site. Some are also including the trait in staff training, on a bulletin board, or in a sermon.

Initial data reflects a decrease in disciplinary referrals, an increase in MAP scores, and an increase in attendance at the schools that are actively engaged in the process of character education. “In order to change the culture, it is going to take everyone linking arms and moving towards a common goal. We don’t have time to wait for someone else to come in and help our kids. We are responsible, and it’s up to us to work together and change the culture in our county,” said Sue Head, executive director of The Keeter Center for Character Education at College of the Ozarks. “College of the Ozarks has been helping develop character in young people for nearly 100 years. We are glad to have a leadership role in this worthy initiative.”

For more information, contact The Keeter Center at (417) 334-6411, ext. 4242.

A+ Schools Program

The A+ Schools Program was created in 1993 by state law as an incentive for improving Missouri’s high schools. The primary goal of the program is to ensure that all students who graduate from Missouri high schools are well-prepared to pursue advanced education and/or employment.

“The A+ Schools Program will mobilize an intensive partnership among high schools, community colleges, students, teachers, parents, labor, businesses, and communities to give these students the motivation, skills, and knowledge to graduate from high school. It will create an innovative and well-designed path from high school to high skill, high wage jobs.”

Excerpt from a speech on World Class Schools for Missouri
given by Gov. Mel Carnahan, May 1992)

The impact of this program has proven to be phenomenal. There are now 231 designated A+ high schools across the state that have graduated more than 65,000 eligible students since the program began in 1997. At least one semester of the A+ Schools financial incentive has been utilized by more than 28,000 eligible students. More than $16 million was paid by the A+ financial incentive for tuition to community colleges and career/technical schools during the 2005-2006 school year, and more than $18 million was appropriated for the 2006-2007 school year. There has been a reduction in the dropout rate and an increase in the graduation rate at designated A+ schools as compared to the state as a whole. A+ high schools are providing more rigorous coursework as a result of the program, and students are rising to the challenge. The A+ Schools Program has produced thousands of successful students.

One student used his A+ eligibility to attend St. Louis Community College, where he enrolled in the Ford ASSET program. He graduated and is now a Ford Transmission Specialist and Diesel Certified Technician. He used A+ to obtain a degree that led him back home, where he is gainfully employed at a local business.

Another student used her A+ eligibility to attend Moberly Area Community College and earn an associate’s degree in nursing. She then went on to enroll, at her own expense, at the University of Missouri, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in nursing in December 2006. She is now a registered nurse in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at University Hospital in Columbia.

For more information, contact the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education at (573) 751-9094.

Northwest Regional Culture of Character— Partners Achieving Character Excellence

The Northwest Regional Culture of Character –Partners Achieving Character Excellence (COC/PACE) was initiated by the Northwest Missouri Regional Professional Development Center (NWRPDC) as a three-county (Worth, Atchison and Nodaway) initiative in August 2006. The entire program was initiated without specific funding and used only resources that participants brought forward. The initial group of 10 school districts and a handful of businesses, industries, and government partners has grown into a regional initiative with more than 200 partners and 20 school districts. In the spring of 2007, the Regional Workforce Investment Board, the Youth Council, and Leadership Northwest Missouri stepped forward to partner with the NWRPDC, growing the model to include the 22 counties of northwest Missouri.

During the spring, summer, and fall of 2006, the NWRPDC provided training for all participating school districts and partners by CHARACTERplus personnel and other nationally recognized professional trainers. Schools, communities, and industry/business representatives met to formulate a list of character traits that were then formally reviewed and processed by a representative regional team. This process resulted in 12 character traits, one for each month of the year. Starting in the month of August, they are: responsibility, respect, self-control, citizenship, compassion, tolerance, honesty, cooperation, perseverance, patience, confidence, and integrity. “Character education is more than imparting knowledge; it is the development of human beings. Therefore, character education is vital to our business, community, and region in our ability to remain on the cutting edge, and be a vibrant entity going forward,” said Charla Wiederholt, plant manager at Deluxe.

NWRPDC envisions its efforts as a movement with the following goals:

  • to create a culture at school, in the workplace, in the community, and in the home where character building is the norm and not the exception;
  • purposely create a diversified learning-space for conversations to take place between student, teacher, child, parent, employer, and employee.

The communication process is driven by an online Web site that records and celebrates what schools and partners are doing each week to implement the trait of the month and to identify shared resources. Northwest Missouri State University FM-Radio regional programming broadcasts segments authored by students, parents, teachers, employees, and mangers to tell their personal success stories relating to the character trait of the month. These will be compiled into a CD and/or DVD to be made available to the all COC/PACE members for use in the classroom, workplace, Sunday schools, and on other radio stations in the region.

For more information, contact the Northwest RPDC at (800) 663-3348.

St. Joseph Guarantees Its Graduates

In 1987, a partnership was formed in St. Joseph between community organizations, business entities, and the school district. The partnership identified several critical issues: the educational level of residents, limited student success within the workforce, and the high dropout rate. The group recognized that, with a majority of students remaining in the area, improvements would have a great impact to the skilled workforce. With the ultimate goal of improving the overall quality of the workforce in the community, the Profit in Education© (PIE) Initiative consisted of four basic requests from area employers:

  • ask prospective employees to promote completion of the GED with their employees
  • request a high school transcript from prospective employees
  • encourage employees to support education in the community
  • appoint a company coordinator for the PIE program.

The school district took the responsibility of providing skilled graduates with several improvements. The curriculum was improved to better meet businesses’ needs. When a student graduated, they were given a written  guarantee of their skills. With this guarantee, the community would benefit from a stronger work force and a higher rate of student success because students needed  to stay in school to get a job. If within three years of graduation a student was found to be lacking in basic skills, the district would provide tuition-free access to adult education classes, tutoring, and worksite instruction for the deficiencies.

The school district worked with employers to handle students who returned in a dignified and positive manner. Areas of remediation were identified, and adult classes were offered to improve knowledge and skills. As an example, a class called Business Communications or Technical Writing might be offered to improve writing skills. With larger companies, the school district created professional learning opportunities with instruction delivered at the worksite.  While the initial written guarantee has faded away, many of the partnership activities and supports still exist.

The next step in the movement toward creating a community of lifelong learners is a new initiative called Another Smart Move. This initiative is being launched to help employers and employees benefit from a better-trained and better-educated workforce. “Our purpose is to help employers improve their business by developing a better trained and more productive workforce,” said Dr. James Scanlon, president of Missouri Western State University. The ultimate goal of Another Smart Move is for the phrase to become synonymous with the importance and value of education, training, and character development in St. Joseph and the northwest Missouri region.

For more information about Another Smart Move, contact the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce at (800) 748-7856.

Cape Girardeau Area Ready to Work

In 2000, the Cape Girardeau Career and Technology Center, in partnership with the Workforce Investment Board of Southeast Missouri, conducted a solutions mapping conference to address workforce development strategies for the Southeast region. A wide range of individuals representing business, industry, K-12 education, higher education, economic development, and workforce development came together. The developments from the solutions mapping brought forth the decision of capitalizing on the WorkKeys system presently in place among numerous businesses and industries in the region, as well as the creation of the Workplace Readiness Credential project.

The WorkKeys system has been utilized in the Cape Girardeau region for over a decade and has proven to be a very valuable asset to business and industry. Presently, more than 20 companies in the region utilize the WorkKeys system. Birdie Legrand from Nordenia USA said, “WorkKeys testing is something our company is committed to utilizing. It has proven to help our retention rate over time.”

The Workplace Readiness Credential program was originally designed to target individuals who lost a job through downsizing, lost government benefits, or merely needed a refresher on securing employment and retention skills. The Workplace Readiness Credential program simulates an employee’s probationary period in a two-week, intense time frame. Soft skills such as working as a team player and problem-solving play an integral role in the program.

An Evolving System

Presently, the components of the programs are being utilized by secondary schools as a ready to work tool. The Workplace Readiness Credential curriculum has been integrated into the career education curriculum taken during the high school experience to enhance the soft skills of the students. Secondary schools are proctoring the WorkKeys tests (Reading for Information, Locating Information, and Applied Mathematics) so that students will leave with a meaningful certificate in hand. Rich Payne, director of the Cape Girardeau Career and Technology Center said, “I feel that we can now say to the employers of this region the individuals that complete these soft skills and WorkKeys components are ready to work.”

For more information, contact the Cape Girardeau Career and Technology Center at (573) 334-0826.

Workforce Investment Boards

Workforce Development Board
604 Black Street
Rolla, MO 65401
(573) 426-6030

City of St. Louis
St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment
1520 Market Street, Room 3050, 3rd Floor
St. Louis, MO 63013
(314) 657-3575

Eastern Jackson County
Full Employment Council
1740 Paseo, Suite D
Kansas City, MO 64108
(816) 691-2256

Jefferson-Franklin Consortium
Office of Job Training
Jefferson-Franklin Counties Inc.
3675 W Outer Road, Suite 201
Arnold, MO 63010
(636) 287-8909

Kansas City
Full Employment Council Inc.
1740 Paseo, Suite D
Kansas City, MO 64108
(816) 691-2256

NEMO Workforce Development Board Inc.
111 E. Monroe
Paris, MO 65275
(660) 327-5125

NW Workforce Development Board
North Central Missouri College
912 Main Street
Trenton, MO 64683
(660) 359-3622, Ext. 17

Department of Workforce Development
City of Springfield
2900 E. Sunshine Street
Springfield, MO 65804
(417) 887-4343

St. Charles County
Department of Workforce Development
St. Charles County
212 Turner Blvd.
St. Peters, MO 63376-1079
(636) 278-1360

St. Louis County
Office of Workforce Development
26 North Oaks Plaza
St. Louis, MO 63121
(314) 679-3300

South Central
Workforce Development Board
416 Washington Ave.
P. O. Box 88
West Plains, MO 65775
(417) 257-2630

Workforce Development Board
760 S. Kingshighway, Suite C
Cape Girardeau, MO 63703
(573) 334-0990, Ext. 100

Workforce Innovation Board of Southwest Missouri
420 Grand. Ave.
P.O. Box 1706
Joplin, MO 64802-1706
(417) 206-1717 Ext. 106

West Central
Workforce Development Board
3208 W. 16th Street
Sedalia, MO 65301
(660) 827-3722