Assignment: Education – ACT WorkKeys

Every Wisconsin 11th-grader will take the ACT and ACT WorkKeys exams

Megan Bush has worked at Festival Foods for three years.

“I love working here,” said Bush.

She landed the job as a junior in high school.

“I applied online. It was all online,” said Bush.

When she was brought in for her interview, the grocery store was searching for one particular quality.

“We’re really looking for great customer service skills,” said Ashley Foreman, Festival Foods human resources generalist.

But the human resources manager said there are other important skills that are useful for cashiers.

“Having that good multitasking, organization skills, depending on if you’re going to be working with money, cash handling experience is always beneficial to us as well,” said Foreman.

Whether someone has the right skills for a specific job can be measured by a test created by ACT called WorkKeys.

“It’s a very different test than the ACT,” said Roger Fruit, director of instructional services for the Onalaska School District.

The test is a job skills assessment that analyzes basic skills required by employers.

“It’s three different tests 45 minutes in length,” said Bob Baer, Holmen High School principal. “And it will test them in the area of careers.”

“It’s more applied math, applied reading, applied writing rather than theoretical or something you might get in a college class,” said Fruit.

“If you go online, you can take sample questions,” said Baer. “They start off pretty easy and then they go up in levels, and they become a little bit more difficult.”

After taking the test, every 11 th -grader in the state will receive a WorkKeys Score Report and a National Career Readiness Certificate.

“Depending on how they do on their WorkKeys assessment depends on which level of certificate they receive,” said Kris Mueller, supervisor of standards, assessments and program improvement.

There are seven levels of test questions. Students who score at least a level three on all three ACT WorkKeys exams will earn a bronze certificate. Students who score a level four will receive a silver certificate. Level five students get a gold certificate and levels six and seven receive platinum.

“So, if a student for example, wants to go work at McDonald’s or work in retail, the certificate can be one source that the businesses use to see the skill level of the students, because you need different skills for different types of jobs,” said Mueller. “So, it really brings more opportunity for our students upon graduation.”

Bush didn’t need a WorkKeys assessment to get her job at Festival, but the human resources department says the National Career Readiness Certificate could be beneficial to applicants in the future.

“If we had a few candidates in front of us and they were all equally as personable and they all had great customer service skills, having some extra backing would be nice to determine if they’re going to be a good fit with the company or whether they have longevity with us,” said Foreman.

The WorkKeys test is designed to help employers select, hire and train the right person for the job.