The Future Workforce: Will Our Students be Ready?

How can educators better prepare students for work in what appears to be a shrinking job market? For now, the answer may lie in helping students, perhaps as early as kindergarten, to develop work-related skills and abilities. If the demand for human labor will be reduced over the next two decades, that means that today’s toddlers will be entering a labor force offering jobs, most of which do not yet exist.

In order to help prepare students for the workforce, Career Development and Occupational Studies (CDOS) learning standards were developed. CDOS learning standards and activities begin in kindergarten and continue through grade 12. They contain universal foundation skills which were developed in the early 1990s by a commission approved by the US Secretary Labor. It contained findings which are widely used today. In total, eight areas were identified. The first three are foundational: basic skills, thinking skills and personal qualities. The remaining five are workplace oriented: resources, interpersonal, information, systems and technology.

Integrated Learning and the CDOS Learning Standards

Since joining the RSE-TASC and working with students in the high school, I have come to realize learning is most effective and meaningful when students can relate what they are learning to their future lives. This approach to connecting school and work is referred to as “integrated learning.”

Middle-Skilled Jobs: An Underutilized Postsecondary Pathway

“College and Career Ready” has become a familiar phrase. Our goal is to prepare students for their futures so that, ideally, students exiting high school have appropriate future plans and possess the knowledge and skills to achieve them. However, when planning for life after high school, we often present students with the choice of attending college, usually a four year institution, or joining the labor force immediately upon exiting. Could the “Career Ready” portion of “College and Career Ready” include a greater variety of directions for transition planning? An often overlooked option in the career planning process is a pathway in the middle-skills market.scription goes here
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