The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development is helping employers make better hiring decisions through job profiling. This is done through the WorkKeys skills assessment program from ACT.
WorkKeys is designed to evaluate job seeker skills in certain areas to help take the guesswork out of hiring. Employers compare job profiles with assessment scores to evaluate which candidates are best compatible with these skill levels in that particular job.
“I analyze a specific company’s job or training program to see what skill levels it requires so when one does a career assessment, they can identify any skill gaps,” sad job profiler Laurie Fuglvog, who is one of two profilers for the Department.
She said identifying these gaps helps strengthen the workforce by helping businesses hire the right candidates, reduce turnover, improve training and stay competitive.
The three main skills measured are reading for information, applied mathematics and locating information.
“Those are the three skills common in 90 percent of jobs,” said Fuglvog.
These skills are rated and compared to four basic levels on the National Career Readiness Certificate, which is nationally recognized and part of the Alaska Career Ready Program. Fuglvog said 1,520 adults have completed this as of April since the Department began offering it in 2008.
Fuglvog can also profile other skills, including teamwork, listening, business writing, workplace observation and applied technology.
While there is no charge for a business’ first profile, second ones would be calculated on a case-by-case basis.
One profiling beneficiary is General Communication, Inc. After using it for almost a year, Manager of Technical Training Gary Gernstein described how profiling helped GCI focus on the best-suited candidates for entry-level field technician slots. He said it narrowed the field to those who would be best-suited to advance to the second technician level after a year.
“It did give us a better understanding of the entry-level knowledge our folks needed and types of documents they need to read,” he said.
Other organizations that have used WorkKeys include BP, the state of Alaska, Blood Bank of Alaska and NANA Management Services.
Profiling has also made its way into the schools. Last year’s 11th-graders became the first to be required to take WorkKeys tests. Information officer Eric Fry with the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development said that 11,436 of the state’s high school students, including some seniors, have been tested so far, with 9,546 earning a career readiness certificate.
“The reason we give these tests is that ACT talked to thousand of employers and found that these are the most-needed skills for entering a job,” he said. He said these are the skills from high school students that make up the majority of entry-level employment needs.
“In general, it’s a way for students to see how well-prepared they are for the workforce,” he said.
Students who meet the gold level of WorkKeys also become eligible for the Alaska Performance Scholarship if they intend to use that scholarship for a postsecondary career or technical certificate program.
Fry said WorkKeys builds a good synergy between the Department of Education and the Department of Labor.
Job seekers can take WorkKeys at any of the state’s job centers. Contact Fuglvog for more information at 465-5926 or Laurie.Fuglvog@Alaska.gov.
• Contact reporter Jonathan Grass at 523-2276 or firstname.lastname@example.org.