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Social Innovation Program Update:

2 Ways You Can Help Sangamon County Become a 'Work Ready Community'

February 2017
by Nadia Gronkowski, iSPI Social Innovation Program Coordinator

The Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce -- one of Innovate Springfield’s Social Innovation partners through the Continuum of Learning and “Sangamon Success” -- is working to certify Sangamon County as the first "Work Ready Community" in Illinois.  In a Work Ready community, emerging (i.e. high schoolers), unemployed, and currently employed individuals are encouraged to take a series of tests to obtain a National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC).  Their score (bronze, silver, gold, or platinum) on the online tests administered in Springfield by Lincoln Land Community College reflects their readiness to demonstrate common workplace skills, including applied math, reading for information, and locating information.  In a Work Ready Community, employers pledge to recognize the National Career Readiness Certificate when a job-seeker presents it.  


To summarize: CERTIFIED JOB-SEEKERS + EMPLOYERS WHO RECOGNIZE THEIR CERTIFICATION = WIN-WIN-WIN.  Job-seekers have a credential that reflects marketable and in-demand skills, employers see a score for job candidates that is a quality predictor of workplace readiness, and Sangamon County demonstrates its commitment to workforce development.  Here’s how you can help make it happen:


  1. If you are an employer, sign up to recognize the National Career Readiness Certificate when a prospective employee provides one.  This means that if someone applies for a job with your company or organization, the person conducting the hiring process knows that the certificate represents an individual’s score on workplace skills tests (math, reading, and locating information).  It only takes a few minutes to join the 23 other businesses in Springfield who have already signed up.  Learn more about the benefits for employers.  


  1. Connect unemployed individuals with the National Career Readiness Certification process.  If you represent an organization or business that serves unemployed individuals, share this information with them.  The National Career Readiness Certificate is more than a piece of paper-- it’s a way to document your skills and stand out from other applicants.  It’s also the end product of a series of classroom hours at Lincoln Land Community College, which provide preparation for the tests and are included in the testing fee.  Job-seekers can learn more about the certificate -- which is transferable anywhere in the United States -- and how it can benefit them here.  


One of the goals of the “Sangamon Success” report is to increase career and technical education for young adults; one of the long-term goals of these efforts is to institute evidence-based and evidence-informed programs that will allow every resident of Sangamon County to achieve their highest employment potential.  Help make that vision a reality by supporting the Chamber’s efforts to make Sangamon County a Work Ready Community.  Please contact Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce Director of Workforce Development Sarah Graham ( for more information.  Special thanks to Sarah for providing information for this article.

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