Some of the students who received their workforce certifications smiling after the ceremony.


CLARKSDALE — A vocational school here hosted its first ACT Inc, WorkKeys assessment, awarding 32 students National Career Readiness certificates in a ceremony Wednesday.

The students who were honored were among those taking the first time of testing for the Carl Keen Career and Technical School. Located across the street from Clarksdale High School, the facility prepares high school students for high wage, skill, and demand careers.

The center became an official ACT WorkKeys testing site last fall and 62 of their students registered for the test.

An individual who takes the test can receive up to four different levels: bronze, silver, gold and platinum. Of 68 students who took the test, 25 received bronze, 12 received silver and one student received gold. Being certified means that a student can compete  in the workplace for jobs in their desired fields.

ACT Inc, WorkKeys is a nationally recognized assessment that tests job skills for employers and career seekers. According to the testing site, many people take the test to gain or keep a job and/or gain a promotion, mentioned on a pamphlet from the Carl Keen Career and Technical School. There are three portions of the test: locating information, reading for information, and applying mathematics.

Clarksdale Mayor Bill Luckett talks to students about his first job.

“It’s always good to get started early,” Clarksdale Mayor Bill Luckett told the students at Wednesday’s ceremony. “It’s always good to have some kind of trade you can rely on.” Luckett told the students that they are getting a head start on everyone because of “this great program here at Carl Keen.”

“As the mayor of Clarksdale, I hope when ya’ll start your careers, you’ll see your way to stay right here in our city. We got a lot of great stuff going on here,” said Luckett.

Ron Hudson, executive director of the Clarksdale/Coahoma County Chamber of Commerce, told students that employers will tell them they either require or recommend ACT WorkKeys certification.

“Y’all are a part of what they call an emerging workforce” said Hudson. He said this information can be used as quantitative facts to possibly help to bring jobs into Clarksdale.

Director of the Carl Keen Career and Technical Center Shirlaurence Fair talks about their program during the ceremony.

“We had a lot of naysayers at the beginning and this proves that we have a lot of Clarksdale students that are career ready,” said Shirlaurence Fair, director of the Carl Keen Career and Technical School.

Fair noted that the center received funding from the Delta Council to help cover the $36 per student cost of the test.

The center’s two-year programs include automotive service technology, career pathway experience, cosmetology, culinary arts, health science, and sports medicine. Students can also receive college credit while taking a course at the center. Fair said that the center’s mission is to provide students with career-technical skills and work ethics that will enable them to become productive citizens and excel in today’s global workforce.


Creative Commons License

Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under a Creative Commons license.

Take our 2023 reader survey

Aallyah Wright is a native of Clarksdale, and was a Mississippi Delta reporter covering education and local government. She was also a weekly news co-host on WROX Radio (97.5 FM) and collaborator with StoryWorks/Reveal Labs from the Center for Investigative Reporting. Aallyah has a bachelor’s in journalism with minors in communications and theater from Delta State University. She is a 2018 Educating Children in Mississippi Fellow at the Hechinger Report, and co-founder of the Mississippi Delta Public Newsroom.