GTR Early Workforce Initiative Produces 153 Students with National Credential


GOLDEN TRIANGLE, Mississippi – Now in its second year of implementation, the Golden Triangle Early Workforce Initiative has seen positive improvement in WorkKeys testing among area high schools.

A total of 273 students took the test with 153 earning ACT’s National Career Readiness Certificate. Last year, only 124 students took the test, with a little more than half receiving the credential.

“We’re thrilled with the numbers in our second year,” said Macaulay Whitaker, VP of Internal and External Affairs with the Golden Triangle Development LINK. “It shows how invested these schools are in providing real, meaningful opportunities for their students futures. Overall, we’ve facilitated 239 students earning a nationally recognized credential that will propel them into the workforce.”

According to EMCC, historical data indicates that the 66% of test takers in the Golden Triangle receive a Silver or higher score.

“We have already seen students benefit from this opportunity and enrolling in technical programs,” said Chrystal Newman. “This is setting them on a path to a successful career, providing them with direction before they graduate high school and the chance to get a head start on their future.”

The GTR Early Workforce Initiative (EWI) is part of an effort headed by the GTR LINK further provide workforce development efforts in the region. A committee representing all three counties and levels of development has been formed to continue to develop plans for the regional workforce to meet the demand of current and potential developments. 

The EWI was provided to students through a subsidization from the Golden Triangle Development LINK Trust, a private investment group committed to the development of the region. Each high school was offered up to $5,000 to subsidize all testing fees for students. EMCC provided staff, training materials, on-site and in-hours testing as well as support for teachers and counselors guiding students through the process.

“We listened to feedback from our schools and community during the first year and committed that this test should be provided to students for free,” said Joe Max Higgins, CEO of the GTR LINK. “We hope that one day it will be given to all graduating seniors, just like the ACT.” 

As defined by ACT WorkKeys, the test is a job skills assessment system that helps employers select, hire, train, develop, and retain a high-performance workforce. This test is commonly used in the Golden Triangle by employers to measure trainability, among other skill sets. Test takers that achieve a Silver or higher score on the test earn ACT’s National Career Readiness Certificate.

For more information about the GTR Early Workforce Initiative, contact Macaulay Whitaker at or call 662.328.8369.

For more information about WorkKeys testing for high school students, contact the EMCC Workforce Services Team at 662-243-2686.

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