Pennsylvania CareerLink uses the nationally-recognized WorkKeys program to ensure that local workers possess the skills that will lead to their employment success. The Luzerne County office is certified to administer the test to measure basic, foundational skill levels in potential employees and assess if they have the necessary traits employers are looking for in their available positions.
The majority of area candidates who take the WorkKeys assessment routinely rank within the acceptable skills range for the jobs they are seeking, including those in the manufacturing industry, according to PA CareerLink Luzerne County Administrator Christine Jensen.
WorkKeys was created by nationwide testing organization ACT, Inc., and is recognized by employers and workforce investment boards across the state. Those who complete the program can receive National Career Readiness certification at one of four different levels.
The program’s three components focus on job analysis, assessment and training. Job analysis looks at what skills are needed for a particular occupation. The assessment portion determines a potential employee’s current skills and compares them to the job analysis findings. The training component offers a variety of programs to address any skills gaps that were found and targets how to use allocated training funds most effectively. The test can also measure crucial soft skills in employees such as teamwork, attendance and timeliness as well as applied mathematics, locating information and reading for information.
A manager at E.S. Kluft, which manufactures and distributes luxury mattresses in the Humboldt Industrial Park in Greater Hazleton, said the WorkKeys program has been very beneficial to the company.
“It helped us quite a bit and allowed us to bring on people more quickly than we normally would have,” the manager said. “It was also a huge help to have the program offset some of our training costs.”
WorkKeys assists employers in Luzerne and Schuylkill counties with selecting qualified employees by narrowing the field of job candidates and aids economic development organizations in bringing new industry and jobs to the area.
“We encourage employers to use the WorkKeys assessment as one of the tools to evaluate job seekers,” Jensen said. “We tell them about the programs we have available that can assist them financially in training the right job applicant for their position.”
The program has a variety of benefits that make hiring new employees an efficient and cost-effective process for employers throughout Northeast Pennsylvania.
“The WorkKeys assessment enables employers to determine if a job applicant possesses the aptitude to perform the job duties for the position they have available,” Jensen said. “Hiring a new employee is a lengthy and costly endeavor. It is important that the individual hired has the skills, or the aptitude to develop the skills, that are needed for the position. The WorkKeys assessment can assist an employer in making this determination.” Jensen added that programs are available to help fill in any gaps between the skills job seekers have and those they may need to possess.
“We do have training available in some cases to assist job seekers in improving their skills. Remediation has been successful in reducing skills gaps, as has classroom training. The CareerLink staff also provides guidance to job seekers about where there are needs within the manufacturing industry. We want them preparing for jobs that exist and not those that have no openings,” she said.
Bimbo Bakeries USA, which operates plants in Valmont Industrial Park and Humboldt Industrial Park in Hazleton, has had great success finding qualified employees that have used CareerLink resources like the WorkKeys program. “We have found a very high-quality workforce dedicated to maintaining a safe work environment and producing quality products,” a human resources manager said.