That's the question the Career Readiness Partner Council addressed in a just-released document. This group of leaders from national education and workforce organizations sought to clear up the confusion between those who believe career readiness means “learning skills for career specific entry-level jobs,” and those who define career readiness as a broader understanding of workplace skills.” What they concluded is that career readiness actually blends the two:
“A career-ready person effectively navigates pathways that connect education and employment to achieve a fulfilling, financially-secure and successful career. A career is more than just a job. Career readiness has no defined endpoint. To be career ready in our ever-changing global economy requires adaptability and a commitment to lifelong learning, along with mastery of key knowledge, skills and dispositions that vary from one career to another and change over time as a person progresses along a developmental continuum. Knowledge, skills and dispositions that are interdependent and mutually reinforcing.”
Simply put, “career readiness” blends core academic subjects (math, science, English, etc.) with technical topics.
In addition to strong core academic and technical subjects, the Career Readiness Partner Council identified a number of “employability skills and dispositions” that students will need to develop to be truly career ready:
- Goal setting and planning
- Managing transitions from school to work
- Clear and effective communication skills
- Critical thinking and problem solving
- Working productively in teams and independently
- Effective use of technology
- Ethical decision making and social responsibility
Coincidentally, the Career and Technical Education division of Lodi Unified School District invited 200 local business leaders to participate in a survey. We received over 80 responses (a very high response rate). The respondents ranked the following employee competencies as very important for creating growth and success in their organizations. Note the similarities to the above list:
- Problem solving
- Critical thinking
- Collaboration/team building
Between seventy and eighty percent of the respondents indicated that most job applicants, regardless of level of education, do NOT possess these traits.
Unless your child plans to become a college professor, “college” is not a career. At some point s/he will enter the workforce and will need skills. Career and Technical Education helps students develop the skills they will need to succeed, regardless of college major or professional ambitions.