Byron's Babbles

Career Readiness for All?

indexI had the privilege of meeting and hearing from Dr. Nancy Hoffman of Jobs for the Future yesterday at our fourth Panel to Study Alternatives to the ISTEP+ Program Test. Our objective of having Dr. Hoffman was to discuss how we assess career readiness under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). I really saw a great deal of the value in the information she was presenting to us and wanted to share. Here are some facts she started with:

  • The unemployment rate among Hoosiers age 16 to 19 year old is about 15%.
  • Missing out on jobs during the late tees can have negative effects throughout a person’s working life.
  • A young person who doesn’t get work experience between 16 and 19 is missing a major developmental experience.
  • The economy suffers because of the above bullet points.

I was also struck by the idea of disconnected youth: those who are not in school or working – “have lower wages and marriage rates, higher incarceration and unemployment rates, worse health, less job satisfaction, and eve less happiness as adults than people who did not experience youth disconnection. Just as early successes breed optimism, early setbacks plant the seeds of hopelessness.”

“It’s not just about young people: The economy needs prepared young people.” ~ Dr. Nancy Hoffman

  • Far too many young people complete a postsecondary degree/credential.
  • STEM fields hold promise; employers struggle to find skilled employees.
  • High school is not working for far too many young people
  • Careers increasingly require postsecondary education and work readiness skills and experience.
  • Education workforce, and economic development are inextricably connected.

“In my utopia, all high school students would have a structured work experience – just as 70% of young people do in Switzerland.” ~ Dr. Nancy Hoffman

Indiana is ahead of most states in having a law requiring career readiness activities starting in elementary school. Indiana has a career readiness definition which includes all students. Additionally, Indiana has career exploration courses. We provide Career and Technical Education (CTE) dual enrollment and we have strong CTE results.

Here are some questions that states need to be asking and addressing:

  1. What is the state’s definition of career readiness?
  2. Does the state want to focus on all students or exclusively CTE students?
  3. Are college and career preparation the same or different?
  4. How should various options be valued and weighed?
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