Career readiness is a term that refers to an individual's academic and non-academic preparation for the workplace. This term has been expanding, with organizations like the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning now requiring their members, including teacher educators, other school leaders, college faculty and staff members in career pathways offices, etc., as well as employers to implement this framework.
What exactly is Career Readiness? This term may mean a variety of things to different people. There is no definition that encompasses every meaning, but there are common themes for several definitions. While there is no single definition that corresponds to each definition, some of the most common themes include: knowledge and skills, non-academic experience (workplace), persistence and motivation to learn on one's own using available resources, developing job-related skills, and having a positive view of one's future.
Non-academic preparation is a broad term that includes, but is not limited to, things like doing an internship and volunteering in the community. These are tasks that earlier generations of teachers did more regularly because they had to. Newer generations of teachers do not have to do these things because they have the choice. However, there are many reasons why you may want to do them as a teacher or even as an administrator if you are interested in making your institution more successful. If you have a passion for working with students who need extra help or who have special education needs, then there are many ways that this can be accomplished without giving up so much time that it negatively affects your family life.
Although the term career readiness has been around for a long time, it has historically been used more often by business leaders, administrators and teachers at community colleges than elementary and secondary school teachers. This is ironic considering that teachers are the ones who set the tone for our culture and our children's futures. We are the ones who teach students on how to use technology as well as how to read and write. Leaning into these skills will help you provide better support to your students in order for them to be successful in life.
When we talk about developing one's future, we should not just focus on academics or even just on making sure that our students get good grades. We should also consider students' non-academic knowledge and skills as well as their persistence when learning on their own.
Graduation is an important milestone, but it is not the end of student success. Students must have a positive view of what the future holds for them to be successful in life. They must have hope about what their lives will be like once they walk across the stage at graduation. This means that we, the teachers who work directly with them, must believe in them as much as they believe in themselves. This type of support may even be more important than any test scores or grades a student has received over the years.
What are common components of career readiness? Non-academic experiences, academic knowledge and skills, as well as persistence and motivation. Each of these components has its own set of challenges for teachers.
Let's first consider non-academic experiences. An internship is a great way to demonstrate career readiness for many students. When students have the opportunity to do an internship or perhaps a senior project, more often than not you will find that they will be better prepared for their future by being able to apply what they have learned in a real world setting after they graduate.
Next, we can consider academic knowledge and skills that are needed to frame learning beyond graduation. These things include, but are not limited to: critical thinking, problem solving and analytical methods. Many students will find that college is necessary in order to acquire these skills. There are many ways to do this without returning for a second year at school.
Finally, we must consider perseverance and motivation when it comes to self-directed learning as well as the ability to work with others and communicate effectively. It is much better if a teacher can get the students excited about learning collaboratively rather than having them be stuck on their own all day long.
How a career readiness framework can prepare students for the future.
The concept of career readiness is mainly geared toward providing students with the knowledge and skills they need to obtain a good paying job so that they can support themselves in the future. The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) has developed an innovative Competency Framework for Career Readiness that identifies the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed by today’s job seekers. This framework applies to all jobs regardless of industry or profession. The NACE framework is a competency-based framework that can be used with any career. For example, students could use the NACE Competency Framework in order to identify areas of need and determine the units offered in courses required for a particular program of study.
So what are the NACE competencies?
The NACE Competency Framework for Career Readiness is made up of 8 domains:
1) Career and Self-Development – Proactively develop oneself and one’s career through continual personal and professional learning, awareness of one’s strengths and weaknesses, navigation of career opportunities, and networking to build relationships within and without one’s organization.
2) Communication – Clearly and effectively exchange information, ideas, facts, and perspectives with persons inside and outside of an organization.
3) Critical Thinking – Identify and respond to needs based upon an understanding of situational context and logical analysis of relevant information.
4) Equity & Inclusion - Demonstrate the awareness, attitude, knowledge, and skills required to equitably engage and include people from different local and global cultures. Engage in anti-racist practices that actively challenge the systems, structures, and policies of racism.
5) Leadership - Recognize and capitalize on personal and team strengths to achieve organizational goals.
6) Professionalism - Knowing work environments differ greatly, understand and demonstrate effective work habits, and act in the interest of the larger community and workplace.
7) Teamwork - Knowing work environments differ greatly, understand and demonstrate effective work habits, and act in the interest of the larger community and workplace.
8) Technology - Understand and leverage technologies ethically to enhance efficiencies, complete tasks, and accomplish goals.
These competencies are used to characterize what it means to be a productive, contributing, and competitive member of today’s workforce. The competencies provide students with the skills and knowledge needed to obtain a good paying job.
Are you interested to learn more about career readiness and how to apply these principals to your institution? Speak to our team for a demonstration of the Potential.ly learning platform and start preparing your students for successful careers today!
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