The Changing Landscape of Career Readiness

Hobsons Senior Vice President of Product Amy Reitz illuminates the importance of ensuring that K-12 students have a chance to explore all of their career options.

As schools and districts focus on the whole student and getting them prepared for college, career, and life, there is an evolving focus on career readiness. What does the landscape for career readiness in K-12 look like today?

That question was at the heart of a recent interview District Administration conducted with Hobsons Senior Vice President of Product Amy Reitz. Amy leads Hobsons’ vision, strategy, and roadmap across all products and markets. Deeply connected to the company’s mission of student success, she is passionate about building solutions that complement human interactions and expertise to surround students with an ecosystem of support.

In her interview with District Administration, Amy spoke about the increased emphasis on the importance of aligning all types of pathways to drive career outcomes for students, and why schools and districts are required to expose students to a broader range of post-high school opportunities aside from college. While many students choose college after high school, it’s not the only postsecondary pathway worth considering.

In the 2020 Naviance Student Survey, 66% of students stated they were on the path leading from high school to a four-year college and then to a career. The other 34% had different plans. 12% said they would attend a community or technical college before transferring to a four-year institution; 8% planned to attend a community or technical college before entering the workforce; and 5% planned to pursue their career through a combination of the military and college. The remaining 9% said they weren’t sure. Career readiness education and training are vital in supporting students, no matter which pathway they choose.

What follows is an excerpt — edited for length and clarity — from the interview. For the complete version, click here.

How and why should we expand our definition of college and career readiness?

Traditionally, college and career readiness in K-12 has focused on academic skills, career knowledge, and college knowledge. Students have prepared for tests, explored careers, conducted college and scholarship research, and ultimately, applied to college. While all of these steps are vital to students’ future success, they are not enough.

The goal of building career knowledge is to develop career readiness by the time students graduate from high school. No matter what postsecondary path students choose, guiding them through the process of self-discovery will expand their horizons of career possibilities and help them make well-informed decisions. Giving them opportunities to explore career clusters, understand the meaning and structure of various jobs, and conduct multiple career searches will help them build a solid understanding of the training necessary to reach future goals.

Why are more states requiring or providing funding for work-based learning opportunities in K-12?

There are 6.5 million unfilled jobs in the U.S. right now. Many employers across the country report that there is a skills gap for middle-skilled jobs, with an insufficient number of applicants having the qualifications, training, or education needed to fill those roles.

Many states have recognized that work-based learning is key for preparing the next generation of the workforce and closing the skills gap. In fact, 35 states now require and/or fund work-based learning experiences for K-12 students. Work-based learning provides real world career learning experiences that will best prepare them for success in the workforce. Additionally, research shows that a blend of technical, academic, and employability skills best prepare students for fast-growing and high-earning jobs in the future.

Is there demand from students for more career learning opportunities? If so, what types of career learning opportunities are students looking for?

Students definitely are seeking more opportunities to explore and experience careers while in school. Many schools and districts are looking for ways to expose students to more career exploration and real-world career learning opportunities, like work-based learning, to meet their students’ needs.

We asked students about their perceptions of the career learning opportunities available to them through their school. More than half of the students stated that there were too few opportunities offered in their school. When we asked students what opportunities they wanted more access to, they overwhelmingly expressed interest in more hands-on experiences like internships, job shadows, and career field trips.

Learn More

To learn more about career readiness trends, check out our on-demand webinar, A Nationwide Look at Career Readiness Trends in Middle & High Schools, or get in touch with a Naviance representative today.

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Topics College and Career Readiness K 12

College & Career Readiness

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