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How WorkKeys® helped Siemens in Newport News meet new workforce demands.


The Challenge
Siemens VDO Automotive is a leading independent automotive electronics and fuel delivery solutions supplier. Several years ago, the Siemens facility in Newport News was selected for a new assembly line. Faced with the challenge of moving to a more high-tech manufacturing environment, Siemens needed a way to attract highly qualified new employees and improve the skill base of its current workforce. A search began for a method to achieve these goals.

The Solution
Siemens came to the Peninsula Workforce Development Center, a partnership consisting of Thomas Nelson Community College (TNCC), the Virginia Employment Commission and the Peninsula Worklink. The Workforce Development Center is responsible for overseeing the Advanced Manufacturing Pipeline. In fact, the Pipeline came about in part because of the successful experience at Siemens, and other major peninsula manufactures.

The Workforce Development team recommended a solution to Siemens: The WorkKeys®Employment System.


  • Creating Job Profiles
    TNCC initially profiled the production line jobs using the WorkKeys job profiling Siemens used the WorkKeys profiles to provide the basis for the skill requirements for the jobs in the plant. Initial WorkKeys assessments were given to selected production line hourly staff, based on the profiles completed. The baseline data indicated weaknesses in Applied Technology and Locating Information.

  • Using WorkKeys Skills Assessments
    In order to improve the skill base of the organization, Siemens decided to use WorkKeys in the hiring and promotion process to ensure new hires had the requisite skills and to motivate current employees to build their skills.

  • Implementing KeyTrain: An Open-Entry Open-Exit Training System
    As promotions became available, workers approached management asking for help to improve their WorkKeys scores. Siemens selected KeyTrain as the remediation tool for their incumbent employees.

KeyTrain is available to employees 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in an on-site computer lab. Employees are allowed to use the lab on their own time to build their skills in order to qualify for promotions. Additionally, at employee request, Siemens will provide them with an account to use KeyTrain on the Internet through TNCC, allowing employees to access the curriculum at home. Results indicate that if employees put the time and effort required to build their skills, using KeyTrain, they are successful in meeting the WorkKeys skill levels required.

Currently, Siemens has profiled all hourly operation positions and uses WorkKeys assessments for hiring and promotions in all profiled positions. Although changing the culture of an organization takes time, Siemens has observed significant benefits from using the WorkKeys program including a higher skilled workforce, particularly in the Applied Technology and Locating Information skills. The higher skilled employees show more intuitive understanding of the tasks, are more capable in troubleshooting, and implement a solid problem-solving thought process. Employees hired through this process also have better performance related to attendance and punctuality. Additionally, cost savings have resulted because less scrap is generated in productions.


“In addition to setting the job requirements, an extra benefit from the profiling process is a detailed job description for each position.”
— Walt Tillman, Operations Training Leader, Siemens VDO Automotive