LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Central Arkansas high school students have the chance to earn a work readiness certificate before they graduate, and the unique test can not only get graduates hired but also paid a higher wage.
It’s called the ACT WorkKeys test. It’s been around since 1992, but after Arkansas Act 319, which focuses on college and career readiness tests, passed last year, the ACT WorkKeys is gaining a lot of traction.
Tyeshail Miller, a school improvement specialist at Jacksonville High School, said whether a high school student is headed for college or a career, the test can help pave the way.
“Kind of like a transition between your secondary experience to what comes next,” she explained.
The WorkKeys measures a student’s soft skills and tells students how they would perform in the workforce. It covers applied math, graphic literacy and workplace documents, like emails and memos.
For the first time, students at Jacksonville High School will be able to take this test and graduate with a national career readiness certificate.
“That says to employers, that says to schools, that I have these skills that make me employable, I have these skills that set me apart from everybody else,” Miller said.
Those who have the certificate will get paid more at the same job than those who don’t.
“And we’re hoping that companies across central Arkansas jump on board at this opportunity to recognize these certificates,” Miller said.
Right now in Pulaski County, only three places do this: the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, Energy Security Partners, LLC and the Brandon House Cultural and Performing Arts Center.
Miller said as the word gets out, though, more businesses will be on board.
“Because they’ll see that these are students that are graduating with the skills that I would have to train them for and they already have them,” she said.
The ACT WorkKeys test is free the first time anyone takes it and comes with a free curriculum to review before taking the test.
Students interested in taking the ACT WorkKeys assessment can talk to their school’s guidance counselor. There’s also information available on the ACT.org website.
Businesses looking for information on how to become an organization that honors the certificates can head to WorkReadyCommunities.org.