FARMINGTON — A collaboration between Four Corners Economic Development and area schools is helping students gain an advantage as they transition to the work force.

Four Corners Economic Development is expanding the WorkKeys job skills assessment system to Aztec High School after administering the test at Bloomfield High School and San Juan College last year.

WorkKeys is a career readiness test that measures the work place skills of job candidates and employees.

Four Corners Economic Development is using an $50,000 grant from Innovate+Educate to fund testing for the next two years and expand into more high schools in San Juan County, said Julie Rasor, the economic organization's director of administration and operations.

Innovate+Educate is a nonprofit group that promotes work force improvements and works with Four Corners Economic Development to develop a "snap shot" of the county's available work force skills.

Information gathered with testing will give businesses a look at the work skills offered by the county.

"One focus is to meet Innovate+Educate goal's of reaching out to discouraged youth ages 16 to 24 who may have been disenchanted with the school system or are not performing at full capacity," Rasor said.

The initial round of testing started last September with San Juan College students in the Trades and Technology program, seniors at Bloomfield High and select unemployed workers.


Aztec High seniors will start testing the week of April 29, said assistant principal Grant Banash.

"We're pretty excited about it," Banash said. "It will give (students) another document they can present to employers showing how they can benefit their companies."

Rasor approached Aztec High in early January about the test, and Banash said the school is excited about the benefits it could bring to students.

"We'll be able to just make our kids more competitive in this area," Banash said. "The more we can give them before they get out of high school, the better chances they'll secure employment or more educational opportunities."

Bloomfield High principal Cody Diehl shared those sentiments.

"It's another opportunity for our kids and that's what we strive to always do. To give them opportunities and help them beyond high school, and this does that," Diehl said.

Last September, 115 students were tested at Bloomfield High and 106 earned certificates, according to Rasor. WorkKeys assesses students on job skills, job analysis and skill training, and participants are issued a certificate based on their performance.

Diehl said one student has already benefited from the WorkKeys testing.

"I've had one student tell me, If I bring in my certificate, I can earn a (pay) raise,'" Diehl said. "Just having the success with one student, it's worth it."

Rasor said she wants to perfect the program before pitching it to the Farmington and Central Consolidate School districts in the future.

"We want to make it as simple as possible to get this done," Rasor said. "My personal goal is to see testing continue and be done at all (county) schools."

Joshua Kellogg can be reached at; 505-564-4627. Follow him on Twitter @jkelloggdt.