Spreading the Word (STLCC WorkKeys Use Model)

By on April 9, 2014
WorkKeys Use Model

Dr. Rodrick Nunn, St. Louis Community College’s Vice Chancellor for Economic Development and Workforce Solutions, two subject matter experts from ACT, and I recently presented at the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) Workforce Development Institute (WDI) conference. Why is that a big deal to companies in the St. Louis region and Missouri? Our audience included peer Community Colleges from around the country. Our intent was to introduce the STLCC way of involving companies and appropriate educational units into all aspects of work readiness, course development and educational delivery. We thought you might want to know that St. Louis is on the cutting edge of developing a workable, “value added” business and education partnership with our STLCC “WorkKeys Use Model.”

For companies, work readiness relates directly to a major cost of doing business. For individuals, work readiness helps them prepare for the any aspect of their career pathway. It also ensures that they have both the cognitive and soft skills demanded by employers. Establishing standards for work readiness will ensure that current and prospective employees’ skills are aligned with employer skill requirements and that individuals develop the foundational and job-specific skills necessary to be successful throughout a lifetime. We used ACT’s Work Readiness Standards and Benchmarks as our reference to prepare America’s workforce for jobs now and in the future.

Sometimes there is a perception, both internally and externally, that only individual stand-alone units exist within education. These units could be admissions, pre-employment services, assessment/remediation, courses, and job placement. We discussed and demonstrated the “WorkKeys Use Model” functions at STLCC. There has been a lot of recent discussion as to the value of pre-employment training programs. As Dr. Nunn pointed out, we were able to measure our program outcomes and successes which are directly attributable to a number of evidence-based interventions. These interventions include WorkKeys assessments for core skills and the use of career navigators to provide robust student supports and an accelerated delivery of instruction. We presented examples of the metrics of success that we have kept over the last couple of years. The upfront attention we have given customized training for local companies has gained us their praise and return business.

Pre-employment Training Programs Number Assessed Number Trained Number Completed   Number Placed  
Boeing Pre-employment Training







SSM Healthcare Patient Care Tech







SSM Healthcare Medical Assistant














In conducting research for this presentation, we also identified a number of “lessons learned.”

  1. In our health cluster, we were able to determine that 67% of the 575 low income or long-term unemployed people who came in our doors were able to obtain a Silver ACT WorkKeys National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) the first time and without remediation assistance. The National Career Readiness Certificate is a portable, evidence-based credential that certifies essential skills needed for workplace success. Based on our job analysis at local companies this meant they had the core foundational skills to enter a good number of jobs within the health industry.
  2. WorkKeys is evolving as an important part of the overall workforce education strategy. The WorkKeys System is an effective process for assessing, remediating and educating. It also provides job benchmarks for the student, educators and companies. The process is a key program element that has increased employer program satisfaction.
  3. Preliminary data indicates that WorkKeys may be a good predictor of success on Perkins Technical Skills assessments.
  4. Locating Information is normally the most difficult assessment for candidates and it is the skill that companies generally seek the most. More emphasis will be placed on this aspect of education when preparing a person for a job.

If you are interested in more information about the WorkKeys Use Model, WorkKeys Job Profiling, or the Talent Development Cycle, please comment on this blog or contact me at jduane1@stlcc.edu.

About Jim Duane

Jim has more than 30 years of experience in the workforce development field. At St. Louis Community College’s Workforce Solutions Group, Jim is the manager and lead WorkKeys job task and skill profiler for the WorkKeys Solution Center. Throughout his 10 plus years as a WorkKeys Job Profiler, Jim has worked with numerous large, medium and small size companies in the aerospace/defense, beverage, cement manufacturing, construction, drug manufacturing, electric utility, healthcare, hospital, petroleum-chemical processing, and sporting goods industries. His team has conducted approximately 50,000 WorkKeys assessments for companies, organized labor, schools, and organizations. He has also presented at national and regional conferences, chaired regional workforce resource committees, and conducted numerous local, statewide and national focus groups around workforce development. He has received the Missouri Governor's Award for Excellence in Leadership in workforce development. This award was based on the Malcolm Baldridge quality management criteria.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login