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Oct 19

What Does It Mean To Be Career Ready?

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.