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Employers want to hire people with real-world skills. They aim to find the perfect match between a candidate and a job. Doing so saves them precious time and money.

As a parent, you can help your teenager prove his or her readiness for the world of work. Verifiable skills are critical whether your student begins working during high school, immediately after graduation, or goes on to college.

Teens looking for a job can take one or more of the accurate and informative WorkKeys® assessments to show their work readiness skills.

WorkKeys assessments (act.org/workkeys/education/students/index.html) are available throughout the nation. They’re a great first step to link your student’s skills with specific jobs. The results help drill down to an occupation that truly matches your teen’s skills. In fact, more than 16,000 job titles, the world’s largest such database, have been profiled through WorkKeys.

 

WorkKeys allows your student to custom fit his or her education and training to specific occupations (http://act.org/workkeys/education/students/scoretips.html). If your teenager has a specific career in mind, he or she can take the appropriate coursework to gain the skills required by that career. In fact, many community colleges require students to take WorkKeys exams before placing them into academic programs.

Since nearly 80 percent of the fastest-growing jobs require some training after high school, the earlier teenagers learn about careers, the better the chance they will achieve their goals. Encourage your son or daughter to set up a WorkKeys account (www.act.org/certificate/account) to begin exploring necessary skills. On this site, your teenager can see the average scores needed for specific careers, read success stories and learn more about becoming job ready. The WorkKeys system measures nine essential workplace skills: applied mathematics, applied technology, business writing, listening, locating information, observation, reading for information, teamwork, and writing. The system also measures personal skills in performance, talent, and fit.

The three core WorkKeys subjects are applied mathematics, reading for information, and locating information. Your student can take one, two, or all three of the tests. Here’s a brief description of each:

Applied Mathematics measures the skills people use when they apply mathematical reasoning, critical thinking and problem-solving techniques to work-related problems.

Reading for Information measures the skills people use when they read and use written text in order to do a job. The written texts include memos, letters, directions, signs, notices, bulletins, policies and regulations.

Locating Information measures the skills people use when they work with workplace graphics. For example, your son or daughter will be asked to find information in a graphic or insert the correct information into a graphic. He or she will also compare, summarize and analyze information found in related materials.

Depending on your student’s score on each of these three tests, he or she may be able to apply for a National Career Readiness Certificate (www.act.org/certificate). The Certificate is valued by employers because it demonstrates that your teenager has verifiable employability skills — it truly sets your student apart from other job applicants.

My daughter took WorkKeys tests, along with college entrance exams, during high school. ACT scores were sent to her top-choice colleges and her WorkKeys score helped her to land a great part-time job while in college.

As a parent, you can support your child’s future success. As you know, in today’s economy, proven skills are important to landing a job. The earlier your teen prepares for life after high school, the better his or her chances are of finding a dream career.

If your teenager’s school does not provide WorkKeys, you can find a nearby center at www.act.org/workkeys/locations.html.

Rose Rennekamp is the vice president of communications for ACT. For more college and career-planning information, visit www.act.org.

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