LORD Corporation turns to WorkKeys® assessments at UB to verify skills of production hires

Employees working at Lord Corporation.

Silvia Lewis, a quality inspector at LORD Corporation, was offered a position after meeting the company’s minimum ACT® WorkKeys® assessment requirements. Credit: Tracy Puckett.

By Tracy Puckett

Release Date: October 31, 2018 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. — Janet Kantor’s role in overseeing a fair recruitment process requires creating a level playing field.

“You don’t want to hire based on only a gut feeling,” says Kantor, human resources manager at Amherst’s LORD Corporation, where 140 employees between two sites specialize in designing and manufacturing sensors and sensing systems. “You want to have some sort of data.”

Data is of particular concern when filling open positions that do not require a degree and are primarily entry level. That’s why LORD utilizes three WorkKeys® assessments as an extra screening for machine shop, computer numerical control (CNC) machining, electronic assembly and testing division roles. They identify whether a candidate possesses a minimum skill level that can’t be measured through an interview.

The assessments are a product of national college and career readiness leader ACT® and facilitated by a local licensed provider, University at Buffalo’s Center for Industrial Effectiveness (TCIE). By measuring a range of hard and soft skills, the assessments gauge abilities in math, literacy and understanding workplace documents.

Testing is among the final steps of LORD’s hiring process. Since production roles are relatively technical in nature, the candidate must score a certain level on all three assessments before a job offer is made.

“We need people who can follow written work instructions, access them on a computer and understand diagrams. They might be responsible for wiring,” Kantor says, explaining that production employees perform a variety of tasks that require attention to detail. The company makes 8,500 different sensors with the option to customize, so it’s important that employees can decipher order specifications.

LORD’s partnership with UB began after the company acquired Stellar Technology and instituted the additional pre-employment layer. Prior, LORD’s northwestern Pennsylvania locations were already using WorkKeys.

It was important to extend the standardized test’s consistency and reliability to Western New York. While WorkKeys was available through Pennsylvania employment offices, official testing locations were scarce in New York State. The closest to LORD’s Amherst site was an hour away in Genesee County.

LORD’s local site ultimately qualified to provide the tests, but Kantor learned TCIE was on path to becoming the first assessment center available to the public in Erie County. She quickly determined UB’s service to be the most efficient option.

“It takes about four hours to do the test and we have limited HR personnel,” she says. “We only have two computers set up for it, so we can test a maximum of two people at a time.”

Candidates travel to TCIE’s office, which is capable of testing 10 people at once. Those who score a bronze level or better on each assessment earn the ACT WorkKeys National Career Readiness Certificate®. The credential verifies skills deemed as the most essential across industries and occupations, and is recognized by tens of thousands of employers nationwide.

Kantor believes WorkKeys is useful for evaluating entry-level prospects at any type of company.

“It could be beneficial as a screening device even in the fast food industry because of the math involved,” she says. “There’s so much technology being brought into the workforce at all levels. A distributor, for example, needs people who pick and scan. The skills needed for those jobs are what the WorkKeys tests assess.”

If interested in arranging for any or all of the WorkKeys assessments – applied math, graphic literacy, and workplace documents – contact Ronnie Wiles at TCIE via vfwiles@buffalo.edu or 716-645-8843.

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