Workkeys: Assessing job skills

Looking for work now means looking for WorkKeys.

WorkKeys is a job skills assessment test developed by the American College of Testing in the 1980s that has become increasingly popular in recent years. It’s used by businesses to measure workplace skills and by schools and colleges to help prepare students for the workplace.

“WorkKeys is a test that measures foundational skills. We want to know can you be taught a job – not do you know how to make a widget, but can you be taught to do the job effectively,” explained Leslie Shaul, a business service representative with WorkOne.

WorkOne administers the WorkKeys test free of charge to Indiana residents. Shaul said WorkOne wants everyone old enough to have a job to take the WorkKeys test.

“For Henry County’s well-being we need everyone tested. We need to know what the workforce is here so we can ‘sell it’ when someone is taking a look at possibly locating a new business here. When a company comes to town we have to be able to say, ‘Yes, we can accurately serve your needs,’” she said.

The test can take as long as four hours, but frequent breaks are given.

If an individual’s test score is poor or lower than expected, on-line remediation is available.

“You pre-test, then test. If you don’t get the score you would like, then you go back to the remediation software and keep working at it until you get to where you want to be,” Shaul said.

WorkKeys also is a tool used by communities to determine whether or not they are “work ready.” Shaul explained that work ready communities is a concept advocated by the state with the idea that each county in Indiana eventually gets certified as work ready. That’s determined, in part, on how many job seekers and how many of the already employed have taken the WorkKeys assessment and what their scores are.

ACT establishes goals based on population and once enough people in that county have taken the test a certified work ready level is determined. This is useful with respect to economic development and bringing new jobs to the area.

“It’s basically a snapshot of the workforce and the skill level of that workforce,” Shaul said.

In east-central Indiana, Henry County is in the work ready communities application process, as is Fayette County. Rush and Wayne County have both already been approved.

Shaul said WorkOne and its partners can create training programs to improve the local workforce, but that requires knowing the strengths and weaknesses of that workforce.

For more information about WorkKeys to take the test, visit the Henry County WorkOne office at 3011 S. 14th St., or call WorkOne at 765-529-3010.

Posted: Tuesday, July 22, 2014 4:37 pm

By Kevin L. Green (The Courier Times)