As educators, we frequently use the terms “college and career ready” when talking about our school programs and our goals for students. College ready is fairly straight forward: good grades, good SAT scores and good recommendations. What about “career ready” and has the description of what entails being ready for a career changed over the past decade?
In 2010, President Obama announced in the “Blueprint for Reform-The Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act” (ESEA) that the schools in the United States needed to deliver a world-class education to the students. To that end, the Reauthorization of the ESEA became an outline for the re-envisioned federal role in public education. Among the priorities were the implementation of college-and-career-ready standards accompanied by improved assessments aligned with this standard. The new approaches toward the complete educational program through this reauthorization were:
- Strengthening instruction in literacy and in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, aligned with improved standards that build toward college-and career-readiness
- Supporting teachers and students in teaching and learning to more rigorous standards that prepare students for college and careers
For many years, technology education, the former path to career-readiness was a separate entity in most high schools housed in their own facilities and were sometimes referred collectively as “shop.” This has certainly changed.
In a recent issue of Education Week (http://edweek.org/ew/index.html) an article by Heather Singmaster names four broad skills that are important for success in what is now referred to as the global workforce.
Adaptability – Adaptability and continuing to develop skills to keep abreast of new technology and industries is a key to personal success.
Communications – Clear and effective communication skills are important for any worker, including the ability to understand those who do not come from the same culture or have a native language different from an American worker. Career and Technical Education programs are promoting opportunities for students to learn a second language.
Technology – An important set of skills for any career-ready graduate as many jobs will probably look completely different for students entering the job market in the near future.
Workplace Experience – Career readiness includes having experiences in the real-world workplace. Job shadowing, internships and part-time employment provide high school students with hands-on learning that help them understand and appreciate the career they may enter.
In all, being involved in career-readiness coursework is not a “shop class,” but a specific pathway to provide a student with technological, communication and hands-on skills to successfully enter the world of work.