Keys2Work = Jobs4People
Program addresses workforce preparedness by involving both employers and students
By: Steve May
In his heart, David Mosey is an educator – a man who worked long and hard with adults with learning disabilities and invested a large amount of energy into setting up workforce preparedness programs for them. But passion is a strange thing – and in the end, it would be his commitment to the later and not the former that would draw him away from teaching.
“I noticed a glaring deficiency in the [workforce preparedness] field,” Mosey says. “There wasn’t a common metric that measured the core skills that a person has in the world of academia with the ones the world of work requires.”
Mosey got wind of Work Keys, a workplace skills analysis and assessment system developed by American College Testing (ACT) to help business and industry match workers with appropriate jobs and manage human resources more effectively. It was just a test – by no means a solution. But to Mosey, it was a start. Convinced he could find a way to link the test, schools and the professional world, he left teaching, hooked up with Barry Nathan, the industrial psychologist who helped develop Work Keys with ACT, and founded the Lyceum Group. The company then launched its flagship program, Keys2Work, a Web-based skills matching and recruiting system built around the Work Keys career skills assessment.
From the beginning, the challenge was huge. The business community likes to see a return on its investment. Nonprofit foundations like idealism. It would be necessary for the test to be mandatory – “If it was voluntary, it wouldn’t work,” Mosey says. Schools and companies – inherently different operations to the core, both of which have to be satiated – are looking for certain, very different things.
“Schools want to certify that the people they’re serving are prepared, and they want [the test] to be part of a greater career development program,” Mosey says. “Employers want qualified applicants. You’ve really got to have joint buy in.”
After first securing foundation support, they successfully solicited business community interest. They then turned to the schools.
“All the schools are a hard sell,” Mosey says. “We had to go above and beyond the call of duty in everything we did to make it worth their time. We put together teachers’ resources, letters to parents, posters, the works.”
To this point, Pittsburgh Public Schools and 13 other school districts in the region have signed on. And the Lyceum Group has no plans to stop in western Pennsylvania. Mosey would like to see Keys2Work become a national standard – an SAT-test for the workplace. It’ll take passion, and more than that.
“It’s not enough to be a good project,” Mosey says. “It has to be one that goes to scale. Vision itself doesn’t cut it. It takes a lot of money.”
A closer look at the Lyceum Group’s flagship.
*Employers get ongoing lists of applicants from a database of pre-qualified recruits.
*Employers are empowered to make personal contact with applicants they may not have reached, otherwise.
* Schools and training organizations can verify their students’ work readiness in terms of basic skill competency.
* Schools can offer a comprehensive bridge to the world of work for students not continuing onto post-secondary education.
*Job seekers are given precise indicators of the skills and skill levels needed to enter nearly 1,000 careers.
*Job seekers get exposure to employment opportunities.