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Work Readiness Gap Analysis: Is CTE the Answer?

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July 10, 2013

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Work Readiness Gap Analysis: Is CTE the Answer?

An analysis of ACT WorkKeys scores, compared to skills required in high-wage, high-demand and fast-growing jobs, has found significant gaps between examinee skills and job requirements, particularly when it comes to locating information. However, test-taker skills and job needs were better matched on the middle level-meaning students with a postsecondary certificate or associate degree, by and large, had the skills needed for jobs that require a postsecondary certificate or associate degree-than for education and jobs at higher or lower levels of education and work requirements.

This study used performance on three ACT WorkKeys cognitive assessments-Reading for Information, Locating Information and Applied Mathematics-from 2006-2011. The analysis compared assessment scores for test takers with low, middle and high levels of education to jobs that are fastest growing, highest earning and have the most openings, also grouped by education level. For instance, the scores of examinees with an associate degree or postsecondary certificate were compared to the skill requirements of middle-level jobs such as health information technicians, air conditioning mechanics, operations managers and front-line supervisors of production. Gaps between examinee skills and skills needed for jobs were narrowest on this middle level.

The most significant gap across skill levels occurred in the Locating Information assessment, which measures the ability to locate, synthesize and use information from workplace graphics such as charts, graphs, tables, forms, flowcharts, diagrams, floor plans, maps and instrument gauges.

ACT concludes that, "While extremely important, the knowledge gained in an academic setting does not guarantee that an individual is able to apply that knowledge in solving workplace issues nor to successfully perform job-related tasks." We agree! CTE's emphasis on integrated, applied knowledge and skills is key to preparing students for the workplace.  

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