Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is urging employers to consider the results of tests given to students during their junior year of high school when making hiring decisions. The Michigan Work Ready Community Initiative encourages employers to use the National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) and ACT “WorkKeys” tests to evalutate potential employees for career suitability.
“The Michigan Work Ready Communities Initiative is another step in improving the quality of the workforce in Michigan,” said Snyder in a presentation with Michigan employers and business leaders.
The program’s supporters say that thousands of high-tech jobs are going unfilled in Michigan. Snyder thinks employers can use the test data to identify which employees are best suited for advancement and said the program can solve the “talent disconnect” that has developed in the state. “This is the No. 1 item we need to work on,” the Republican governor said.
“This program is the right move for our state,” Snyder said. “It provides a universal system of assessing workers’ skills and abilities for employers, as well as promoting workers’ development and improvement.”
ACT, the college admission testing company that developed WorkKeys, describes them this way:
ACT WorkKeys is a job skills assessment system that helps employers select, hire, train, develop, and retain a high-performance workforce. This series of tests measures foundational and soft skills and offers specialized assessments to target institutional needs.
Students who successfully complete the ACT WorkKeys assessments in Applied Mathematics, Locating Information, and Reading for Information can earn ACT’s National Career Readiness Certificate (ACT NCRC), a portable credential that employers can use to assess potential employees.
ACT played a leading role in the development of the Common Core State Standards, which emphasize “college and career readiness.” Now, they will report the data they collect on every Michigan public school junior to potential employers in order to fill a pipeline for “high-tech” workers.
Questions remain about whether schools will modify their curriculum to reflect the business community’s need for “high-tech” jobs. Some parents are concerned that schools will be transformed into state-sponsored job training programs, since very specific skills will still be needed to solve the problem of unfilled high-tech jobs.
Other parents are concerned about students who don’t test well or that a poor score on a single, high-stakes test could disqualify an individual from future employment. There are also complaints about data collection and privacy related to the mandatory tests.