Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

Steve Hansen: Tucumcari wants to be a work-ready community


August 18, 2015


Former QCS Managing Editor

Last week I discussed Quay County as a location for logistics business sites. The county has rail and highway access and a location central to large markets in the Midwest, the West and the Southwest.

One of the most important criteria in any company location or relocation decision, however, is whether a “trained and ready” workforce is waiting.

In that area, we might come short.

In 2013, the county’s workforce numbered 3,300. Last month, our workforce registered at 3,550, though. As of June, 258 of them were looking for work.

Whether that workforce is “trained and ready” is a question city, county and Mesalands Community College officials are preparing to answer.

Paving the way are resolutions that the Tucumcari City Commission passed on Thursday and that the Quay County Commission is expected to pass on Friday.

These resolutions will allow the county to work with ACT, the Iowa-based non-profit whose standard test measures college readiness for high school students nationwide.

ACT also produces a test called Work Keys, which measures job-related skill levels in math, reading for information and locating information on often very complex charts and graphs.

Based on Work Keys scores, individuals can qualify for a National Work Readiness Certificate from ACT, but composite scores from many applicants can certify whole counties as “Work Ready Communities.”

Through a process that involves pre-testing, panels of community leaders, education and retesting, a county can gain recognition while working to become a Work Ready Community by ACT’s definition.

In New Mexico, only San Juan County has an active Work Ready Communities program, but the entire states of Kentucky and Missouri seem to have adopted ACT’s work readiness approach. Officials in both states are singing its praises.

I have taken the Work Keys test and administered it to job seekers and can attest to its rigor and, I think, the accuracy of its results. Along with scores, ACT also provides lists of careers that match the score combinations to help job-seekers.

The Work Ready Community approach is still pretty new, but it’s a step worth taking to improve Quay County’s prospects in the race to attract tax base and good jobs.

Steve Hansen writes about our life and times from his perspective of a retired Tucumcari journalist. Contact him at:

[email protected]


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