UNION COUNTY — A testing program that determines a person’s ability to perform up to 18,000 different jobs will be offered at the Union County Advanced Technology Center in April.
Kathy Jo Lancaster, technology center site coordinator, and Eric Childers, director of Adult Education for the Union County School District, announced Wednesday that the WorkKeys testing program will be offered at the technology center April 8-17. The class, which will have a maximum of 20 students, is free and will be offered from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday the first week and 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday the second week.
Lancaster said WorkKeys is part of the South Carolina Work Ready Communities initiative, a public-private initiative whose mission is to empower counties in developing a workforce that meets the needs and challenges of the global economy.
“WorkKeys is the foundation of the National Career Readiness Certificate which is also part of the South Carolina Work Ready Communities initiative,” Lancaster said. “The idea is when an individual takes the WorkKeys assessment it identifies what skills the individual already possesses. It matches the current skill level to specific job requirements. It also provides a way to determine if the individual will be successful in the workplace.”
In February, Union County was one of 34 counties designated as a Work Ready Communities In Progress, meaning the county is making progress toward becoming a Work Ready Community. A Work Ready Community is a measure of the quality of a county’s workforce and the in progress designation means the county now has two years to meet the criteria required by the initiative.
WorkKeys, which is currently being offered through Adult Education, is part of the county’s efforts to meet that criteria. Childers said the expansion of WorkKeys to the Advanced Technology Center is designed to provide Union County residents with more opportunities to take the program and determine their job skill levels.
“In our facility every student is enrolled in WorkKeys,” Childers said. “We used to do it all at the end, but with the Work Ready initiative we have started doing it at the beginning.
“We’re offering this now in the evenings at the Advanced Technology Center to allow people who wouldn’t have the opportunity to come to my place in the morning to take the course,” he said. “We wanted to bring it here to a college setting to let everyone know that this is a service for the community.”
Lancaster and Childers said the program at the technology center will be open to anyone including the employed, underemployed, unemployed, emerging members of the workforce such as high school and college graduates, and veterans.
“This will not be a remedial course,” Childers said. “Our coursework will be preparing them to take the tests.”
The WorkKeys program tests individuals in the areas of applied mathematics, reading for information, and locating for information. Research has determined that those skills are highly important in up to 18,000 different occupations. The tests allow an individual to identify their existing skill levels in those areas; match their skill levels to specific job requirements; and prove they have the skills needed to be successful in the workplace.
“There are four levels of WorkKeys — bronze, silver, gold, and platinum,” Childers said. “To earn a bronze a person must score a minimum of three on each test. Silver would be at least four on each test. Gold is a five on each test. Platinum is a six or more on a test.”
Childers said a bronze designation means a person has the skill levels to perform 16 percent of the 18,000 occupations listed by the program. A silver means they have the skill levels to perform 67 percent of the jobs. Gold means they have the skill levels to perform 83 percent of the jobs. A platinum designation means they have the skill levels to perform 99 percent of the jobs.
For more information about the WorkKeys class at the Union County Advanced Technology Center call 466-1060.
Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com.