The most important skill in today’s workplace isn’t brute strength, the ability to swing a hammer, or even hand-eye coordination. Don Carstensen says the top three things you need on the job are things you should have learned in school. Applied mathematics, reading for information, and locating information — all of which have strong problem-solving dimensions to them.
Carstensen is a vice-president in A-C-T’s Workforce Development Division. He says it became apparent more than a decade ago that there was a “skills gap” between the needs of the workplace and the abilities of new workers, and his company’s been working on ways to score those work skills, just the way they score the American College Tests taken by college-bound high-schoolers.
Employers told the ACT company while it was designing the system that they wanted individuals who had those core skills, and people who could, within a workplace context, solve problems. ACT’s ready to roll out a National Career Readiness System, created after analyzing the skills of more than 12-thousand jobs. The system will assign a prospective worker not a score but a “readiness certificate” that shows any employer just how well they perform those key job-related skills. He says it doesn’t mean they come pre-trained for a certain job.
What it’ll mean is that the person who’s earned a certificate is prepared to enter the workplace, and to learn within the workplace setting the job-specific skills they’ll need to be successful. So if you’ve taken the job readiness test and gotten a certificate, would you clip it to your resume? Absolutely, Carstensen says.
If he were hiring people for some job and found an applicant had taken the initiative to credential themself by getting the certificate he says “they certainly would go to the head of my line, because I would have a confirmed statement of their readiness.”
He says the National Career Readiness System certificates are already accepted at companies including Citigroup, Northrop Grumman, and Rockwell Collins. The “Work Keys” exams to get the certificate can be taken at hundreds of A-C-T “partner organizations throughout the country.