There has been a lot of effort recently to certify communities and workers as workforce ready. I applaud any effort that helps to improve the talent picture within a community. However, I believe that there is a deeper play for these certifications.

Workforce readiness gives an indication of an individual’s readiness to perform at a basic level. The certification tests tend to be given to high school juniors and seniors at the earliest, but more often, to post high school graduates who have not gone on to college, tech, or trade schools. I argue that if a community is going to use these certification tests, they should be given to students as early as the 8th or 9th grade. From there, these students now have time to work on their areas of deficiency.

My rationale is pretty simple. If you give a workforce certification test to a young adult after they have left high school and they don’t qualify, they have limited options. They are no longer in the school system. Thus, the options are: 1. Society gives the young adult condolences on not being prepared to work or 2. The community has to invest additional resources to get that person to the most basic level of workforce readiness.

To be competitive for medium to higher wages, they will need more.

If the test is given at the 8th, 9th or as late as the 10th grade, there will be awareness. There will be time to work on the student’s workforce readiness while society is still obligated to spend resources on that student. In my opinion, the earlier, the better. Once individual workforce readiness has been established, it should be the basis from which a student increases their usefulness to employers – meaning tech, trade, 2-4 year college.

Individual workforce ready certification is no substitute for individual trade certification, technical training, or higher degrees. However, workforce certifications can be used in a way that adds value to the education and workforce training process.

For more about talent strategies or to learn about Ady Advantage and the services we offer, visit our website at or give us a call at 608.663.9218. I or a member of my team would be happy to speak with you.