Keys to a Healthy Workforce

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Photo Credit: Albert Belchers, Wikimedia Commons, licensed under Creative Commons

This article was originally published in The Gettysburg Times, October 13, 2016

By Robin Fitzpatrick

Careers can be thought of as a series of doors, opening—or closing—at various times through our lives. But to hear “opportunity knocking,” we all need to be holding the right keys in order to unlock the doors to our futures.

It is with great excitement that Adams County Economic Development Corporation (ACEDC), in partnership with Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC), is laying the groundwork for area students to attain platinum, gold, silver, and bronze keys which will open doors leading to future success. This has the potential to be one of the most ground-breaking programs we have ever provided to Adams County’s employers!

workkeys-logoWorkKeys is a program with a 20-year history, developed by the non-profit ACT, known for providing the ACT college readiness test. Similarly, the WorkKeys program provides an assessment of skills. Although the WorkKeys program is currently required of high school students in 24 states, Pennsylvania is not part of that list—yet. Thankfully, many colleges such as HACC are stepping in to administer the program and serve their communities on a regional basis.

How does WorkKeys serve the community? The program measures students’ skills in three areas considered critical to career success—Applied Mathematics, Reading for Information, and Locating Information. Based on students’ scores, they attain the National Career Readiness Certificate bearing their scores in platinum, gold, silver, or bronze levels. ACT considers these certificates to be “portable credentials” currently recognized by 10,000 employers nationwide, as a way to verify work skills.

We are excited to bring Adams County employers into the mix! One of the tasks before our new Business Outreach Specialist Marian Grenchik is to do just that. She is currently meeting with area employers and explaining how the WorkKeys program will benefit their businesses.

Three million people nationwide have earned their certificates to date. HACC is working to institute the program and begin helping area students earn their WorkKeys. But we need to help area employers recognize the value of job applicants’ certificates as a way to fill future positions.

One of the most powerful testimonials for the program comes from John Engler, President of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM):

At a time when millions of Americans face unemployment, manufacturing jobs with excellent salaries—and across all skill levels and sectors—are unfilled because of the lack of qualified applicants. These tough economic times call for clear pathways to skills in demand to help new and transitioning workers prepare for good jobs. The National Career Readiness Certificate is an ideal tool for ensuring that individuals have the essential skills they need for the workplace today.

Please feel free to contact Marian (email), 717-334-0042, to learn more about WorkKeys and the tremendous impact it can have on opening doors to a brighter future in Adams County.

Robin Fitzpatrick serves as President of ACEDC. For additional information, see acedc.org, and follow the organization on Facebook and Twitter for the latest Adams County business news.

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