Work Keys Program Helps St. Charles County Workers Get Jobs

I am very pro-higher education. I’ve written articles on LinkedIn and in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch praising the St. Charles Community College. I graduated from the University of Iowa and Iowa State University. My brother is an economist with a Ph.D. I believe higher education will play an important role in helping American workers thrive in an increasingly automated economy.

But not everyone can or should go to college—and if schools and the government don’t do something to get a grip on escalating costs and student loan debt, that phrase “can or should” will soon be joined the accompanying phrase, “or sees the value of.”

Still, people who don’t attend traditional universities, colleges, or community colleges can access opportunities that lead to good jobs.

One St. Charles County resident—we’ll call him “Bill” (not his real name)—recently found out about the Work Keys Assessment. Bill is in his 20s, and he is the father of two children. Bill worked at a convenience store. He and his wife struggled to make ends meet, and they couldn’t see a way forward. Bill took the Assessment and earned a National Career Readiness Certificate. After earning his certificate, he visited the St. Charles County Career Center where staff helped him create a résumé and apply for open manufacturing positions.

He now has a good job in the manufacturing sector and an income that supports his family. The manufacturer also filled a vacancy in an era where the skills gap in manufacturing is significant. What happened after Bill took his assessment is no small feat for him, his family, or his new employer.

Don’t let the generic fake name fool you.

Bill is a real person. Members of our team here at the EDC know him well. We are incredibly proud of him—and incredibly proud that programs like this exist.

And we need more:

More employers that recognize credentials like the National Career Readiness Certificate. More public-sector funding for programs like the Work Keys Assessment. More media outlets paying attention to the changes happening in education and training. More people like Bill who believe they can take control of their own destiny and go out and work hard to make a better future happen.

In the United States, the statistical reality is that the quality of your life greatly depends on the skills and training you have, and education and training don’t just affect your lifetime earnings. Economists Angus Deaton and Anne Case have done compelling research that shows how important education and economic opportunity are to leading a healthy life.

For a long time, the discussion about educating people for economically secure careers has been about one thing: bachelor’s degrees. For a variety of reasons, that’s changing. One of the programs filling that gap is the National Career Readiness Certificate. If you know of someone—employer or employee—who could benefit from the program, please let us know.

We look forward to helping employers find the highly skilled employees they need to stay competitive.