Building Future Ready Skills through Defined Careers

We continue to hear there is a skill deficiency for young adults coming out of high school and college. Yet, what specific skills are needed and how can learners build those skills in a meaningful way that will help them find their purpose and passion to drive success for the future? First, I want to share a study that was focused on the skills employers are looking for.

In 2020-2021, America Succeeds conducted a study of roughly 80 million job postings in the United States. The study focused on what skills employers were asking for in their job openings. The durable skills not only include what we used to call “soft” or “21st-century skills” such as communication, problem-solving, and critical thinking. It also includes skills like leadership, growth mindset, and fortitude. In an age where a combination of these skills is needed more than ever before, education must adapt to provide learning opportunities to meet these needs.

If we agree we want students to understand career opportunities, build durable skills, and gain the academic knowledge needed to succeed in their career path, then let’s provide learners with these opportunities. To start, let’s look at opportunities students get through Defined Careers. In Defined Careers, students get the opportunity to experience career clusters and pathways, work on a project as a professional would, assess and develop skills needed for that career, and understand what financial responsibility would look like while working in a specific career field.

As learners progress through these opportunities, it is important for them to self-reflect on what they are learning about themselves and how that ties to the career path they are experiencing through Defined Careers. While the learners are being provided these opportunities in Defined Careers, it also creates opportunities for teachers to better understand their learners and what they inspire to do in the future.

Through the courses in Defined Careers, teachers will gain valuable feedback from the learners about what they like best about the careers and work done within different careers. They will reflect on how the career matches their interest, what they value, and what skills they may need to develop to be successful in that career. This information is vital for teachers to set up future learning opportunities that will be the best fit for each learner. These opportunities in Defined Careers allow learners to have a better understanding of how certain career internships, apprenticeships, and other WBL opportunities will be the right fit for them. This way, they are not going into these opportunities without having a good understanding of what that career or line of work consists of and if they truly have a desire to continue down that path. These opportunities are what will set education apart now and in the future to help students be Future Ready. 

About the Author:

Jordan Menning is an educational consultant and leader that has a passion for making sure each learner has meaningful real-world learning experiences. His dedication to education has led him to lead educators and schools to implement project-based learning (PBL) throughout the country. Over the course of the last 12 years, Jordan has taught ELA, math, science, and STEM. Jordan has also been an instructional coach, consultant, and Future Ready leader. 


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