What Does It Mean to be Career Ready?

By Brad Hoffman, CEO and Founder

My Learning Springboard, Inc.

The Career Readiness Partner Council released a four-page statement outlining its definition of what it means to be ready for good jobs in today’s economy. This council is comprised of business and education groups, including The Council of Chief State School Officers, the National Association of State Boards of Education, Achieve, and the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium. However, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), one of the two federally funded state consortia designing assessments for the common standards, is not a member of this council, whereas the other federally funded state consortia, Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, is on the council. I’ll leave the politics of this decision to Education Week and instead focus on the intention of the definition, which is provided below.

According to the Career Readiness Partner Council, career success is defined by a combination of academic and technical knowledge and skills along with certain behaviors or dispositions. These behaviors or dispositions are closely aligned with Tony Wagner’s 7 Survival Skills for 21st Century Students and Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  After leaving the elementary classroom in Chevy Chase, Maryland to pursue a second career in corporate Talent Development in New York City, I can say with certainty that this combination is accurate. To be truly competitive and effective in today’s society, students must develop subject matter expertise and core competencies. At My Learning Springboard, we are focused on cultivating these behaviors that lead to success and thinking about education as a lifelong journey with opportunities for continuous improvement.

Below is the Career Readiness Partner Council’s definition of what it means to be career ready:

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 learning 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.

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