Connecting Alabama Counties and Education for a Career-Ready State

Alabama counties leverage ACT WorkKeys to identify career interest, opportunities for training, and connect labor to regional demand.



Time Period:

Mid-2000s to Present

Across Alabama, there’s a deep disconnect between local economic development efforts and the education system. Meanwhile, the state’s economy continues to grow, and it’s estimated to add 500,000 high-skilled employees by 2025 to meet industry labor demands.  

In order to bridge the gap, numerous counties are leveraging career readiness testing to take career interest inventories, identify opportunities for work training, and connect labor to regional demand.  

A Closer Look at Two Counties 

Tuscaloosa County became a certified ACT® Work Ready Community (WRC) in 2016 in an effort to create a talent pipeline solution for potential employers and appeal to economic development site selectors. This is a key differentiator for West Alabama because only 25% (17 of 67) counties currently leverage county certification as part of their overall workforce ecosystem. The ACT® WorkKeys® National Career Readiness Certificate® (NCRC®) is woven into every component of the West Alabama workforce system—one of the main reasons the region is a model of best practice for increasing career equity for every student possible.  

Meanwhile across the state, Morgan County partners with Calhoun Community College to connect local high school students with employers to provide valuable work training. Earning certification status as an ACT® WRC enhances local economic recruiting for Morgan County.  

One of those local employers is Decatur Utilities, a company that has created a sustainable pipeline of talent by using ACT® WorkKeys® Assessments for its Line Worker Apprenticeship program. The assessments provide the utility company greater insight into specific skills required for the job. Decatur Utilities hires with greater confidence because skills have been validated, resulting in much lower turnover.  

Both regions of Alabama have experienced unique success due to the statewide implementation of the ACT NCRC, as well as collaborative partnerships across education and businesses working to sustain and grow local communities. 

“Employers in the region understand a job seeker’s potential and feel that they are getting a better qualified employee with the NCRC.” 

Donny Jones, Chief Operating Officer at the Tuscaloosa Chamber of Commerce 


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