27 W. Stephenson Street Freeport, IL 61032
Phone: 815-233-1356 Fax: 815-235-4038

Community Profiles ButtonInteractive Maps ButtonRequest More Information ButtonCVB ButtonCity of Freeport Button
Highland Community College in Freeport built the first Wind Technician Training Center in Illinois, in collaboration with local business partners. Pearl City earned its name in the late 1800s when fresh water pearls were found in nearby Yellow Creek.

HCC can-crusherADSC 8141ab_HCCcomputer class_HCC_0463

Workforce Development Coalition (WDC)

The WDC is a group of dedicated volunteers from Stephenson and Jo Daviess Counties whose mission is to help develop a workforce that has the cognitive and soft skills that meet the needs of employers both now and in the future. The group of volunteers is representative of business (55%), education (30%), and government related organizations (15%). Their Vision is to transform Northwest Illinois into a Workforce-Ready Community.

What is a Workforce-Ready Community?

A Workforce-Ready Community fosters a continuous learning environment. It is supported by nimble, responsive, customer-centric staffing, training, and educational institutions aligned to meet the ever-changing skill needs of businesses focused on competing in the 21st Century. It is characterized by a strong collaborative partnership between businesses and educators.

WDC's Mission:

Establish a process to address workplace needs and help the community develop a skilled and value added workforce.


  • Introducing workplace expectations to high school students — CERTIFICATE OF EMPLOYABILITY (COE).
  • Identifying skills needed on the job — WORKKEYS.
  • Assessing the skills of job applicants and employees — WORKKEYS.
  • Closing the gap between skills needed and skills assessed — KEYTRAIN.
  • Marketing these initiatives to community stakeholders — WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT COALITION.

These are the elements of a strategy to transform Northwest Illinois into a Workforce-Ready Community. The WDC's commitment to continuously develop a trained workforce that meets the occupational/skill needs of business will position Stephenson County as a place to sustain and grow businesses and attract new ones.

What is...

 Certificate of Employability (COE)
The COE is the result of collaborative efforts between educators and employers. It consists of three components—Academics, Attendance andCOE Pie Chart Attitude. By meeting the criteria of each of these components, the graduate earns the COE. These components cover both cognitive and soft skills sought by employers. For the graduate, the attendance and attitude criteria supplement their high school diploma. The COE provides an indication of the dependability and attitude of the individual. 
For more information about the COE, click here.
WorkKeys LogoWorkKeys is an ACT job skills assessment system for measuring "real world" skills employers believe are critical to job success. These skills are valuable for any occupation-skilled or professional-and at any level of education. The three basic skills found in any job are: Applied Mathematics, Reading for Information, and Locating Information. The job skills assessment process helps an employer to Hire the Right Person, for the Right job, the First Time.
KeyTrain Logo
KeyTrain is a comprehensive system for improving the basic skills measured by the WorkKeys Assessment System. It is configured to be used as an online tutorial.
National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC)
NCRC LogoTo earn a NCRC, the student needs to achieve qualifying scores on three WorkKeys cognitive skill assessments. These skills are required in essentially all jobs, from entry level positions to white-collar professionals. WorkKeys does not deal with job-specific training; however, it does measure the basic abilities needed to perform the job. The WorkKeys assessment also provides the student a measure of the skills that may need improvement.
For more information about WorkKeys/NCRC/KeyTrain, click here.
Community Supporters
Both the COE and the NCRC are credentials recognized by our educational institutions, employers, and other organizations. Their endorsement of these credentials provides credibility to the COE, WorkKeys, and the NCRC. These programs add value to the hiring process and help the employer in making a more informed hiring decision. These credentials are timeless and are applicable to high school graduates who decide to enter the workplace now or after completion of college or education in a vocational/trade school. The NCRC is also a differentiator for any incumbent employee and/or the unemployed or underemployed individual seeking a position in the workplace.
To visit the current list of Businesses/Organizations Supporting the Workforce Development Coalition, click here.

What are our Accomplishments?

The WDC launched the overall Transforming Northwest Illinois into a Workforce-Ready Community initiative at Highland Community College in September, 2011. Close to 175 were in attendance. The attendees represented business, education and government related organizations. Following that event the WDC established a few goals for 2012.

Following is a brief summary of what has been accomplished.

Goal: Provide high school seniors throughout Northwest Illinois the opportunity to earn the NCRC in the current school year (2011-2012).
Outcome: In collaboration with the high schools and with WDC support, 424 graduates earned the NCRC. In that this was the first year seniors had the opportunity to take all three WorkKeys assessments, the number is significant.

Goal: Have at least 600 NCRC recipients by year-end 2012. This includes both students and those already in the workplace.
Outcome: As of December, 2012, it is estimated there are 624 NCRC recipients in Northwest Illinois.

Goal: Secure at least 100 Letters of Support from Northwest Illinois employers/organizations by year-end 2012.
Outcome: As of December 2012, 76 Letters of Support have been received.

For any questions about the WDC, contact them at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Contact Us

27 W. Stephenson Street
Freeport, IL 61032
Phone: 815-233-1356
Fax: 815-235-4038
email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

sponsor bar