DPS honors WorkKeys recipients for attaining key employability skills

May 4, 2018
Northern High School Senior Eryka McDouglad earned a platinum ACT WorkKeys National Career Readiness Certificate.

More than 400 Durham high school seniors are graduating this year with a national credential demonstrating they are career ready in a range of essential hard and soft skills.

Durham Public Schools’ Career and Technical Education staff honored students who earned Platinum, Gold and Silver National Career Readiness Certificates™ (NCRC™) during its Evening with Stars CTE Celebration and Annual WorkKeys Awards Program on May 1.

Among the students honored was Platinum certificate holder Eryka McDougald, a Northern High School senior in the veterinary assistant program who plans to pursue animal science at N.C. A&T University. McDougald says having the knowledge and credential the WorkKeys assessment provides makes her confident to enter the workforce.

“I can go into a career more confident, really trusting myself to be able to carry things out accordingly, and I don’t have to be scared. I know that I can do a good job in my career,” McDougald said.

Employers, too, can hire McDougald and her fellow students with confidence, she says. “They’ll know they can trust us to complete the job and don’t have to go through extra training for us.”

Ondrea Austin, lead workforce coordinator for CTE, wants more employers to know about the credential and the talent development value it offers them.

“Students who undergo WorkKeys preparation and assessments demonstrate that they can bring critical thinking and problem-solving skills to the job, that they can analyze and apply information, follow instructions and work independently,” says Austin. “These are valuable and critical skills, and employers can hire these students knowing they can hit the ground running in so many ways.”

Most people know ACT for its college readiness test. But the nonprofit ACT Inc. offers a range of products and services that promote education and workplace success. Among them is WorkKeys, a system of assessments and curriculum that build and measure essential workplace skills. Students who complete assessments in three foundational areas earn the National Career Readiness Certificate® (NCRC®). The areas are:

  • Applied Math, which measures the ability to apply mathematic principles to problems encountered in the workplace.
  • Graphic Literacy, which assesses the ability to find, analyze and apply information presented in workplace graphics.
  • Workplace Documents, which tests the ability to understand and apply written information presented in the workplace.

DPS administers WorkKeys assessments to all 12th graders each year who are CTE “concentrators” – students who have earned four or more technical credits in a CTE pathway or cluster.

The assessments verify proficiency in each of these key areas:

  • Problem solving
  • Critical thinking
  • Reading and using work-related text
  • Applying information from workplace documents to solve problems
  • Applying mathematical reasoning to work-related problems
  • Setting up and performing work-related mathematical calculations
  • Locating, synthesizing, and applying information that is presented graphically
  • Comparing, summarizing, and analyzing information presented in multiple related graphics

Research shows employers benefit in many ways from understanding and using the ACT WorkKeys NCRC, including:

  • Better quality hires
  • Reduced turnovers
  • Reduction in time to hires
  • Shortened training periods
  • Increased performance ratings for skilled workers
  • Improved employee morale
  • Decreased operator error
  • Improving promotional procedures

For more information on the ACT WorkKeys National Career Readiness Certificate program, visit https://www.act.org/content/act/en/products-and-services/workkeys-for-employers/ncrc.html.

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