Excerpt From Site Selection Magazine, July 2019
Do You Believe in Unicorns?
Economic development at the fringes of civilization offers a testbed for new strategies in rural communities.
by CHRISTOPHER STEELE & MARK MORRISSEY
Unique Analysis Shows Where Rural Certifications are Strongest
Repeating an exercise first published in our September 2017 issue, Site Selection has collaborated with ACT to analyze that organization’s National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) data across every county in the United States, filtering the data so that we can glimpse the top performers in the four categories at right.
Fred R. McConnel, director, ACT Work Ready Communities, says regions are “doing some great things by leveraging their Work Ready Communities teams and using the NCRC to create a common language within their career pathways.” West Alabama, working with Shelton State Community College, is one. Mississippi County in northeastern Arkansas is another. And Eau Claire County, Wisconsin, working with Chippewa Valley Technical College, has seen 52 area employers recognize the NCRC, along with such activities as apprenticeships, incorporating ACT’s Workkeys into K-12 academic and career planning, and increasing partnership with the Department of Corrections to offer Workkeys testing to soon-to-be-released offenders.
A 2018 study from ACT showed a correlation between NCRCs and higher wages. “What’s more, higher NCRC levels translate into higher increases in earning,” said the report. “In fact, adults with some postsecondary education earned approximately $8,000 more with a Silver NCRC as compared to a Bronze NCRC, and roughly $5,500 more with a Gold or Platinum NCRC as compared to a Silver.”
“The challenge for many rural communities is the misconception that they do not have enough skilled workers to support existing employers and attract new ones,” says McConnel. “By proving not only the quantity, but the quality of their skilled workforce, these communities are able to show current employers that they are committed to their future successwithin the community and that they can help grow any new employers in the same way.”
— Adam Bruns
Top U.S. Rural or Micropolitan Counties for NCRCs
|Rank||State||County||Total Certificates||Micro Title|
|9||WI||Dodge||4,470||Beaver Dam, WI|
Top States for Rural & Micropolitan NCRCs
Top States for Rural NCRCs
Top U.S. Rural Counties for NCRCs