Finding those right people and utilizing the skills of current employees to their fullest can be a difficult task. In today’s uncertain economic times, it’s even more important that employers find ways to not only hire employees who match their current and future needs, but also that employers clearly assess and better align the knowledge and skills of current employees with job needs.
In his book, “Good to Great,” author Jim Collins tells business and industry leaders that, “People are not your most important asset. The right people are. Get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.”
Faced with a shrinking talent pool, employers are seeking better ways to accurately assess, develop and retain top talent. One such method is the use of an industry-driven system of job profiling and assessment called WorkKeys. This system helps businesses identify the skills and skill levels employees must have to perform jobs effectively. It is a program of ACT, Inc., a not-for-profit organization that specializes in assessment and research.
Kentucky offers a portable credential known as the Kentucky Employability Certificate which is based upon WorkKeys assessments and examines people’s skills in three areas:
- Applied Mathematics
- Reading for Information
- Locating Information
To obtain a KEC, individuals must first take a WorkKeys Assessment in the three areas, and achieve at least a Level 3 in all three assessments. If the person does not score at the appropriate levels, targeted instruction is available to help raise their skill levels.
Job profiling gives employers the opportunity to improve their businesses by using assessments and instruction specific to their needs. Community colleges in Kentucky, such as West Kentucky Community & Technical College, as well as area adult education centers, offer the KEC.
With the KEC, employers can hire with the confidence of knowing that an employee or job seeker with a KEC certificate has demonstrated mastery of job-related skills and the employee/job seeker can demonstrate their skill levels to employers in a common language that is easily understood.
There are three different levels to the KEC:
Gold — Candidate must score at a Level 5 for the three skill areas. If the candidate has these skill levels, they would qualify for 90 percent of the jobs contained in the ACT Occupational Profile Database.
Silver — Candidate must score at a Level 4 for the three skill areas. If the candidate has these skill levels, they would qualify for 70 percent of the jobs contained in the ACT Occupational Profile Database.
Bronze — Candidate must score at a Level 3 for the three skill areas, and they would qualify for 30 percent of the jobs in the database.
Cost for all three WorkKey assessments is $45, and the Kentucky Employability Certificate is $10. WorkKeys and the KEC are free services provided to Adult Education Learning Center Students.
Colleges in the Kentucky Community and Technical College System provide workplace assessments such as WorkKeys for business and industry as well as individuals. The Workforce Assessment Center at WKCTC offer high-stakes assessments in a secure and proctored environment.
Assessments range from nationally recognized certifications to specific licenses required by the commonwealth of Kentucky.
Other available assessments available include: Kentucky Department of Insurance Licensing;Kentucky Manufacturing Skills Standards; NOCTI, a leading provider of high quality technical competency assessment services; LaserGrade certification; PearsonVUE IT Certification; Promisor Contractor Certification; ServSafe Certification; Computer Literacy Exam; System for Assessment Group Evaluation;IC3 (Certiport).
WKCTC’s Workforce Assessment Center staff can also assist business and industry in developing pre-hire assessments to help select individuals whose skills match job requirements. These services include: Job profiling; Job task development; selecting and administering assessment tools.
For more information about, job and other assessment tools, contact Gina Marwa at 534-3490.
Janett M. Blythe, a former reporter for The Paducah Sun, has been director of public relations at West Kentucky Community & Technical College for 19 years.