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May 10, 2013

Job Corps trainee earns tops scores on National Career Readiness test

OTTUMWA — Adult job candidates have tried. Students from Indian Hills Community College have tried. Even various college instructors have tried. But it took an 18-year-old Job Corps trainee to get the highest score ever seen at the Ottumwa Iowa Workforce Development center on the National Career Readiness test.

The test is sort of like the ACTs for grownups. In fact, ACT developed the test, which looks at how well a job seeker can do in the three subjects employers are interested in: applied mathematics, reading and searching for information.

"When job seekers come in, we give them a KeyTrain account," said Linda Rouse, regional manager of IowaWorks.

That allows test takers to study first. It's worth it, she said. Those who pass the test get a certificate, the NCRC, which is accepted by 5,000 employers in Iowa. Rouse said certification lets those in charge of hiring know right away if an applicant has certain abilities.

"It has communication skills, interviewing skills, business writing. There's also the main [categories] of applied mathematics, reading and locating information. They can train and then take the test," she said.

They actually take three tests, one in each category. Pass one of them, and you get a bronze "score." Pass all and you end up with the bronze "certificate." But you can also get a silver or gold. It's not an easy test, and it takes work to get the certificate. Of the three sections, the certificate is awarded based on your lowest score. Get a silver, one gold and a bronze, and your certificate is a bronze.

Kyle VanDenBerg of Dyersville said his father took the test and he received a gold certificate. That meant the lowest of three scores was a gold. Kyle found out that there was one score higher than gold: platinum. Unfortunately, no one in Ottumwa or the surrounding communities ever earned a platinum certificate.

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