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The “Career” in College and Career Ready

By Mary Shumway
State Director of Career, Technical, and Adult Education
Utah State Office of Education

Have you heard that you need to be “College and Career Ready”? What exactly does that mean? You have most likely been told the importance of going to college and completing a degree. Have you thought about the “career” part of College and Career Ready?

Being career ready means that you also focus on: (1) specific employability skills—such as being to work on time, working as a team, etc., (2) entry-level job skills—computer skills, completing tasks, etc., (3) specific skills in an industry—such as health care, Information Technology certificate, etc.

All of these career ready skills are important to develop along with academic skills. A career-ready person effectively navigates pathways that connect both education and employment to achieve a successful and financially-secure career.

It is important to think about a career and know that it is more than just a job. Being career ready is something you work on your entire career. It requires you to be adaptable and committed to lifelong learning. Being career ready also means that a study has a mastery of key academic, technical and workplace knowledge, and skills. Skills may change and need to be adapted from one job to another as a person progresses along a career path.

A broad coalition of national education, business, philanthropic and policy groups has come together to create a clear, unified and focused vision for what it means to be career ready. The coalition is called the Career Readiness Partner Council—careerreadynow.org. Their goal is to enhance reform efforts around college and career readiness to include a more comprehensive understanding of what it means to be career ready.

The council recently released a statement entitled “Building Blocks for Change: What it Means to be Career Ready.” This statement makes clear that career readiness is a process of connecting “education and employment to achieve a fulfilling, financially-secure and successful career.” The document establishes that career readiness must foster “adaptability and a commitment to lifelong learning, along with a mastery of key knowledge, skills and dispositions that vary from one career to another and change over time.”

If you take advantage of Career and Technical Education courses, pathways, and leadership organizations you will be better prepared to meet your personal goals and the economic needs of Utah and the nation. Talk to your school counselor about participating in a CTE Pathway and about the courses you will need to take to put you on the path to a rewarding career. With the guidance of your school counselor, you and your parents can develop a PLAN to help you achieve your personal goals and to prepare for life after high school—college and “career.”

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