A Vision for Career Readiness

If I were asked to describe my hopes for career readiness work in Massachusetts, I would describe a continuum of academic + classroom, community and workplace experiences that build interests, passions, knowledge and skills that youth need to do well in first steps after high school and in long-term career management.

How do students in Massachusetts attain the knowledge and skills needed for career readiness? 

1.) Strong academic foundation — having a strong foundation in core subject areas — with skills including literacy and communication skills, critical thinking, mathematical literacy, civic awareness, history and economic literacy, scientific literacy,  information skills, the arts, music and languages.

2.) Classroom, community and workplace experiences - with enrichment experiences starting in elementary school and continuing through all stages of education and including school-day and out-of-school-time experiences.  These experiences build students’ knowledge and skills and help them to develop potential interests and ignite passions.  These experiences build four areas of readiness:

  • Applied academic skills – seeing how writing, math, research, information, critical thinking, creative thinking, scientific, design and technology skills are applied in classroom/community/career settings.  Having opportunities to “try-out” and demonstrate these skills.
  • Essential career skills — understanding how basic foundation skills and higher order skills — professionalism, teamwork, goal setting, motivation, communication, project management, customer service, leadership,  entrepreneurial thinking — are used in classroom/community/career settings.  Having opportunities to build and demonstrate these skills.
  • Career awareness and career management skills – understanding how to learn about career options, understanding how job markets evolve and change, knowing what types of careers people have, knowing how people prepare for and navigate various career paths.  Understanding how to set goals, navigate transitions, find mentors, seek out information and build a network of support.  Building personal resiliency and persistence.
  • Interests and passions– having academic-subject-related and career-related interests and passions — as a starting point for further study, personal exploration and/or career development.  Opportunities to enjoy the arts, journalism, science, technology, engineering, design, environmental study, math, media and other interesting areas.  Opportunities to organize community events, participate in community service, work on leadership projects and participate in the arts.  Opportunities and encouragement to explore books and media on all types of subjects.   Opportunities to begin to explore in-depth and to develop skills and knowledge in areas of interest.

In Massachusetts we have lots of examples of how these elements currently happen in schools and communities.   Through Work-Based Learning Plans, Contextual Learning Portal entries, surveys and other forums, we can get a glimpse of what Massachusetts students, employers, community members, educators and workforce development professionals are doing to build career readiness experiences.

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