Workshops were conducted in two northeast Louisiana parishes last month to educate local employers on a new workforce initiative.
Workforce Development Board 83 held "Lunch-n-Learns" in Bastrop and Delhi in May to further inform area workforce recruiters and employers on the ACT WorkKeys National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) Program.
The Work Ready program assists regions and states with developing a workforce pipeline to provide skilled workers for employers by using the ACT WorkKeys System.
Both Richland and Morehouse Parishes are in the process of obtaining ACT Certified Work Ready Community status. The standards set by AWRC are high, but Morehouse Parish is currently achieved 84 percent of its required goals, while Richland has obtained 90 percent. Ouachita Parish just obtained its AWRC status earlier this month. To see the specific requirements for each parish, visit www.workreadycommunities.org/LA.
Job seekers — and current workers — take the WorkKeys assessment to establish the presence of basic skills necessary for success in a given job.
Students who successfully complete the assessment receive National Career Readiness certificates. Based on performance, a certificate is bronze, silver, gold or platinum.
Employers are able to utilize the ACT-WorkKeys Sytem as an assessment tool to evaluate an employee or potential employee’s readiness in a particular job as well as talent potential and training needs. Businesses that have incorporated WorkKeys NCRC System have reported reduced turnover and improved retention.
Economic Development and Workforce Development will benefit as they work to strengthen and grow our local economies. WorkKeys NCRC is one of the criteria used by Site Selection Magazine to rank business locations. There criteria used to certify Work Ready Communities are a quantifiable way to document progress in closing skills gaps.
Angie White, Senior Vice-President of the North LA Economic Partnership spoke at the "Lunch-n-Learn" events about the three specific assessments within WorkKeys - applied math, graphic literacy and workplace documents.
Applied math, she said, is exactly what it sounds like while graphic literacy presents information in the form of graphs and charts and asks questions to determine understanding. Workplace documents assesses reading comprehension skills and the ability to follow instructions.
Within the WorkKeys website, ACT has profiles of 22,000 occupations and established base scores for the WorkKeys test to gauge if a candidate is a good match for a given role.
The WorkKeys assessment also has internal applications for companies who want to measure the skills of current employees.
The initiative is also supported by the Louisiana Department of Education’s decision to begin funding the WorkKeys testing for some high school students, which has led to students in Morehouse and Richland Parishes graduating from high school with a WorkKeys Certificate.
Louisiana Delta Community College is also increasingly embedding WorkKeys in certain high demand programs, so their graduates will have this additional tool to demonstrate mastery of the skills they need to be successful in a chosen career.
Job seekers can qualify for assistance with the test assessment charge of $36. Employers who want to test an existing workforce can contact Workforce Development Board 83 for pricing and to schedule a testing date.
"Workforce Development Board 83, is excited to be a member of the team responsible for bringing this initiative to our communities," said Workforce Development Board 83 executive director Terri Mitchell. " We are working closely with our Chambers and other Economic Development organizations as well as our Education partners, to reach our goals for certification.
"It is the mission of WDB-83 to equip job seekers with the skills needed to achieve their long-term employment goals; and business with the workforce required to be competitive in the global economy," Mitchell added. "The ACT-Certified WorkReady Communities Program certainly encompasses that mission and will enhance our ability to meet the skilled labor and talent needs of our communities."