Since the early 2000s, there has been a strong push by the Department of Education to encourage high schools to focus more on career readiness programs. The pandemic only accentuated the skills gap – a growing need for workers with specific skills and the extreme gap that exists between the labor needed and the labor available. Across the country, high schools are embracing career readiness programs. These programs, rather than push every single student to go to college, help identify career paths for students who either want to go to work right out of high school, want a higher paying job upon graduation, or want to work to pay for college rather than take out student loans.
Today’s Career Readiness Programs Must Reflect Tomorrow’s Workforce Needs
While many well-developed career readiness programs exist in areas like auto mechanics and certified nurse’s aid programs, there has been a strong demand from the business community for workers who are better prepared for the technology they’ll be using in the workforce. So in addition to medical and automotive career programs, which are essential, many high schools are introducing CTE programs and work-based learning opportunities that allow students more hands-on experience with the technology they’ll need to be proficient in once they are in the workforce. The U.S. Department of Chamber identifies several skills beyond technical knowledge that are also developed through CTE and career readiness programs, including “critical thinking, teamwork, problem solving, professionalism, creativity, etiquette, public speaking, cultural competency and other ‘soft skills.’” They identify the benefits of career readiness to include “transferable or employability skills providing students with a competitive edge during interviews and internships for current and future careers. These abilities can differentiate a good employee from a great one.” They also recognize that these skills aren’t just essential for the workplace but also help students be successful in the college setting as well.
Why Schools Should Embrace Career Readiness Programs
There are measurable benefits to the school, student, and community when career readiness is prioritized in high school.
- Creates a pipeline of skilled workers who have the qualifications to help their companies, communities, and country remain competitive and innovative on a global scale.
- Helps students identify and build their strengths earlier in their education, permitting more specialization and individualized educational opportunities.
- Develops students who are more prepared not only for the workplace but for going onto college. Schools with CTE programs have higher graduation rates from both high school and college and higher college attendance rates.
- Improves student critical thinking capabilities as well as their soft skills.
As a Public Benefit Corporation, GG4L maintains significant mission-focused initiatives to support students and schools around the world. Our primary initiative today is developing Career Readiness for students, beginning in their high school years. To learn how we can help your school or organization with career readiness and work-based learning opportunities, fill out this form.