Being Career Ready Means Good Jobs and Good Pay
By Gary Wixom
Assistant Commissioner for Career and Technical Education
Utah System of Higher Education
Over the last few years we have heard a lot about unemployment and the challenge that the “Great Recession” has brought to economies all around the world. Here in the United States the unemployment rate has stayed around 8 percent and may not significantly improve for some time to come.
Earlier this year, the McKinsey Global Institute released a report titled, “The world at work: Jobs, pay, and skills, for 3.5 billion people.” In this report, they indicated that the global labor force will grow to 3.5 billion by the year 2030. Students coming of age here in the United States during this time will be competing in this global environment for good jobs and good pay. The McKinsey report also indicates that we are experiencing a situation where joblessness remains a problem for many economies, with pools of youth with very poor employment prospects, and employers frustrated because they can’t find skilled workers. If this trend continues, economies across the world will have too few skilled workers to help their economies to grow and develop.
In order to be successful in this highly competitive workforce, students will need a different set of skills than those required in years past. The skills of the 21st century are requiring a combination of technical knowledge and skills, coupled with solid academic knowledge.
On October 18, 2012, the Career Readiness Partner Council issued a statement on what it means to be Career Ready. The report, titled “Building Blocks for Change: What it Means to be Career Ready,” is an effort by 27 organizations and companies to clearly define what it takes to be Career Ready.
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 inter-dependent and mutually reinforcing. These include:
Academic and Technical Knowledge and Skills
A career-ready person is proficient in the core academic subjects, as well as in technical topics. This foundational knowledge base includes competence in a broad range of academic subjects grounded in rigorous internationally-benchmarked state standards—such as the common core state standards for English language arts and mathematics. It also includes a level of technical-skill proficiency aligned to a chosen career field and pathway, and the ability to apply both academic and technical l earning in the context of a career. Many careers also require deeper learning and mastery in specific academic or technical subjects.
Employability Knowledge, Skills and Dispositions
A career-ready person has a good understanding of their interests, talents and weaknesses and a solid grasp of the skills and dispositions necessary for engaging in today’s fast-paced, global economy. These include, but are not limited to:
- Goal setting and planning;
- Managing transitions from school to work and back again,
and from one occupation along a career pathway to another;
- Clear and effective communication skills;
- Critical thinking and problem solving;
- Working productively in teams and independently;
- Effective use of technology; and
- Ethical decision-making and social responsibility. 1
To be “career ready” students need to start early with a solid career plan. One of the advantages of Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs is there is a clearly defined pathway to follow. In Utah, at the high school level, students can choose from over 60 CTE Pathways within eight Areas of Study. We know today, that most pathways that lead to good paying jobs require some form of postsecondary education. These 60 CTE Pathways will lead to a variety of certificates or degrees at Utah’s postsecondary institutions that do lead to good jobs with good pay.
Decide today to be Career Ready by following a CTE Pathway and acquire the academic and technical knowledge and skills, plus the employability knowledge, skills and dispositions that lead to success.