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A Survey of Selected Work Readiness Certificates

Norma Rey-Alicea and Geri Scott

The United Way of Rhode Island asked JFF to prepare a scan of work readiness certificates that have emerged throughout the United States in recent years. Like many other states, Rhode Island finds itself challenged by employers who are demanding “work-ready” job candidates and significant numbers of residents who have trouble getting a job due to lack of educational and professional credentials. This report summarizes five of the nation’s many work readiness certificates, which are representative of the diverse range of such initiatives in terms of target population, certification requirements, geography, and other factors: the WAGE Certificate Program, the Workforce Skills Certification System, the Work Certified Program, WorkKeys Career Readiness Certification, and the National Work Readiness Credential. The report highlights the benefits and costs associated with each, as well as issues that stakeholders should consider in determining which approaches would most benefit their state’s unique demographics, economy, and political landscape.