ACT creates center to support workforce advancement

A.C.T. logoACT today announced plans to create the Center for Workforce Advancement to better position ACT as a national and international leader in workforce and career solutions. The Center will support large-scale workforce and career advocacy efforts at the national level. The developments are very positive for areas like Joplin that fully leverage ACT’s workforce tools to grow the regional economy.

In addition to creating the Center, ACT will merge its Work Ready Communities (WRC) initiative with its state-based ACT State Organizations to expand its work with local grassroots organizations, businesses, and chambers of commerce.

“College and career readiness is more important than ever, but the ‘career’ side has not been given the attention it deserves,” said ACT Chief Executive Officer Marten Roorda. “The country needs career readiness to take equal billing with college readiness and become an equivalent part of the goal to which all education and training efforts point.”

The initial goals for the Center include:

  • building industry and government acceptance of verified work skills credentials,
  • creating industry-recognized competency models, and
  • advancing policies that promote innovative standards and practices for workplace credentialing.

Through the Center, ACT will implement partnerships to support career readiness initiatives and publish original research and policy positions to support career and workforce advocates and thought leaders in their efforts.

“ACT has long had a presence in career solutions, and the Center is designed to propel ACT to the next level of engagement,” said ACT Vice President Scott Montgomery. “Our data on workforce readiness can help businesses address pressing issues with talent acquisition. We want to assist individuals’ efforts to enter the workforce and be an asset to business and industry.”

The Center will leverage resources from ACT’s Community and Economic Development (CED) unit and build on the extraordinary work of the Work Ready Communities initiative that has helped build sustainable workforce development systems in 23 states.

Several staff members from CED will move to the new Center to support national engagement programs and the National Workforce Solutions Advisory Board (NWSAB), while others will continue to support the WRC initiative in its new collaboration with the ACT State Organizations unit.

“We’re grateful for the work of the National Workforce Solutions Advisory Board and its desire to address the needs of the business community,” said Montgomery. “We’ve also heard from our State Organizations that connecting education and business in meaningful partnerships is critical. This effort will connect K–12 and postsecondary education with the workforce, creating a pipeline that we expect will pay huge dividends for individuals and employers.”

Staff members will begin transitioning to their new roles on March 1. Both the Center and the WRC/State Organizations merger will become fully operational in early April.

ACT is a mission-driven, nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people achieve education and workplace success. Headquartered in Iowa City, Iowa, ACT is trusted as the nation’s leader in college and career readiness, providing high-quality achievement assessments grounded in more than 50 years of research and experience. ACT’s uniquely integrated set of solutions provide insights that empower individuals to succeed from elementary school through career. To learn more about ACT, go to

FAQ on Transitions:  Center for Workforce Advancement and Work Ready Communities

What are ACT State Organizations?

ACT’s State Organizations are state-­based membership groups comprised of users of ACT solutions. Many of the members of ACT’s State Organizations serve in K-­12 and postsecondary positions in their states that utilize ACT’s solutions. They are also committed advocates and champions for ACT. The State Organizations have played many roles during ACTs history but are currently engaged in activities to help further college – and especially – career readiness efforts among the education community.

Editor’s Note from WIB:  Jasen Jones serves as a workforce development rep for both Missouri’s State ACT Organization and as well as a Midwest District workforce rep for ACT’s National Steering Committee of State Organizations. Read More >


Why is ACT creating a new Center for Workforce Advancement?

ACT has long championed workforce and career initiatives but has often found our efforts to support workforce efforts dispersed in several areas of the organization. Through the creation of the Center, ACT will bring all of our national policy and thought leadership efforts together in one unit with a sole mission to expand and enhance ACT’s footprint in the national career and workforce advocacy space.

Why is ACT merging Work Ready Communities with State Organizations?

ACT’s mission is to help people achieve education and work place success. In addition, ACT seeks to provide additional support to communities who have completed the ACT WRC Academy and are actively engage in the ACT WRC initiative. In recent meetings, the ACT State Organizations have communicated a desire to provide greater connection of their college and career readiness efforts to local workforce and career readiness initiatives. In reviewing the desired collective goals of these two organizations, it makes sense to connect these efforts to provide stronger grassroots support for organizations, further link education and workforce development, and align to economic development efforts in local communities.

How will this impact my current Work Ready Community effort?

As ACT’s transitions to this new structure the organization will continue to support these efforts and bring leadership of these two organizations [ACT WRC/State Org] together. The work of both the Center and expanded State Org/WRC effort will both be part of ACT’s Policy, Advocacy and Government Relations unit who will help build the right relationships and strategies for these two groups as they merge together. We will work to create common agendas that support successful workforce development for their communities, regions and states.

My county/region is currently engaged in ACT Work Ready Communities Academy. How does this change impact our current engagement?

The current process for engaging in ACT WRC is through the ACT WRC Academy. Those counties, regions and states engaged in Academy efforts will continue the program as is. As we transition to new structures ACT will continue to support each county/region as they complete the Academy program and launch their county or regional efforts. We will begin integrating their membership teams with the new WRC/State Org infrastructure and continue to provide meaningful support to their efforts to become a certified and then maintained ACT Work Ready Community.