O*NET® Products at Work

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ACT, formerly the American College Testing Program, conducted a study (ACT, 2006) showing that high school students who plan to enter workforce training programs after they graduate need math and reading skills similar to those of college-bound students. For the study, ACT looked at O*NET job zone 3 occupations that:

  • do not require a four-year college degree,
  • offer the potential for career advancement,
  • are projected to increase in the future, and
  • are likely to offer a wage sufficient for a family of four.

These occupations generally require some combination of vocational training and on-the- job experience or an associate's degree. They include electricians, construction workers, upholsterers, and plumbers. ACT then compared academic skill levels of profiled job zone 3 occupations with the College Readiness Benchmarks established for the ACT test. The results show that the levels of math and reading skills needed for success in the first year of college are comparable to those needed by high school graduates to enter 90 percent of the profiled occupations. Based on this study, ACT urges high school educators to offer students a common academic program that prepares them for both post-secondary education and workforce training programs.