Picture a brilliant, talented student who has just graduated from high school — with no idea what kind of career she should pursue. Now picture the same student, but instead of being clueless about her career, she is graduating high school with a clear sense of what job she wants in the future, and what criteria, training, or studying is required in order for her to land it.

That’s the power of career readiness.

What is career readiness?

Career readiness is the process of preparing students with the essential skills they will need to be successful in the workplace and foster a lifelong career. Many districts and schools have college and career readiness programs and activities to prepare students to make educated and thoughtful decisions about their futures.

At Naviance, we know that career readiness education is vital to supporting students, no matter which pathway they choose. Our career readiness solutions enable students to explore career options, engage in work-based learning opportunities, and build an actionable individual plan toward their future goals.

While preparing students for postsecondary success has long been a priority among educators, a focus on career readiness has increased nationwide in recent years. Today, nearly every state has adopted rigorous college and career readiness standards in mathematics and English language arts. Federal policy supports these and encourages states to use assessments to determine students’ growth and to evaluate their progress.

To be “career ready” means to possess a number of skills that are needed in order to succeed in the workplace specifically, and in the professional world in general. Career readiness skills can look like:

  • communication
  • critical thinking
  • emotional intelligence
  • financial literacy
  • stress management

What do students need to be career ready?

To be career ready, students need to have met or exceeded the standards that their school district has woven into its curricula. According to the U.S. Department of Education, these standards, which should be high, represent the goals for what students should learn. In an environment of high-quality standards, teachers can focus on the higher-order skills students need to be able to think critically, solve real-world problems, and be successful in a world of unprecedented connectivity and complexity.

In order to find fulfilling and meaningful professions, students need to be exposed to a wide variety of careers early on. One way high school educators can do this is by creating a career assessment questionnaire for students. This is an effective tool because it draws out likes and dislikes, and helps students narrow their focus toward their best-fit jobs, and learn what postsecondary coursework and training they’ll need in order to qualify for them.

What are the benefits of career readiness?

Career readiness produces a multitude of benefits. It is essential to minimizing the skills gap — the disparity that currently exists between the skills employers are looking for, and the skills that emerging members of the workforce actually possess. The more career readiness is woven into high school curricula, the better-equipped students will be to land great, meaningful jobs, and surpass their boss’s expectations.

Career readiness is also important because it ensures that students graduate from high school with essential real-world skills. They will be able to think critically, deliver and receive constructive criticism, solve problems, form and nurture positive relationships, and understand their role in an organization’s bigger picture. Ultimately, career exploration in high school helps students feel ready to enter their prospective careers, and sets them up for a successful and thriving professional life.

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