Originally published to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation- June 24th, 2022
The Past Couple of Years Have Taught Us All A Lot About Career Preparation and Continued Development
Nobody can argue that our economy is not experiencing a seismic shift in the form of workplaces, educational institutions, and technology. 2020 and 2021 were unique years for several professional fields, and many have seen it as a time to pursue meaningful work, and even as an opportunity to explore entrepreneurship. Students, in particular, need to think about what jobs and career paths might be best for them, as technologies rapidly advance. For high school students, this translates into the need for stronger career prep during their years of traditional studies.
Career prep and development provides a lot of benefits for high school students, businesses, and non-profit organizations. In fact, 89% of employers are more likely to hire high school graduates if the students learned more real-world skills, according to the 2021 Future of Learning Research Survey. And, according to the LinkedIn US Workforce Confidence Index, Gen Z possesses the clearest job-hunting agenda of any age cohort. Part-time jobs and internships in high school can also teach students more adept time management skills, stronger working habits, budgeting, and even greater personal independence. All of this leads to stronger employees for businesses, with better levels of engagement. Stride, the leader in online learning for K-12 students with more than 20 years of experience, has responded to the challenge of making students future-ready, and prepared students to get to work and help businesses to make an impact through the High School Internship Resource Center, featuring more than 9,000 job openings at nearly 5,000 companies across 500 industries in the United States!
Benefits associated with hiring directly, or having a student intern, with a career-prep education are often two-fold. The perks derive from driving business operations forward; and by making an impact on the future of your industry. Students with career-focused education are:
- Eager to learn from you and willing to try new methods, making them great candidates to test out new systems or processes.
- Collaborative and understand the value of working together to get the job done.
- Able to create additional opportunities for leadership within your organization, when you assign them a mentor and/or direct supervisor.
- Introducing cutting-edge skills in technology through their coursework and digital experience.
- Helping accomplish your organization’s goals with fresh, innovative ideas and perspectives.
- Empowering your staff to connect with a new generation, which is great overall for market research and insights.
- Ready to get to work, using skills from their project-based learning class assignments, and ready to learn from your industry. This creates opportunities for organizations to impact the future leaders of their own industries!
As we’ve now moved through some very challenging years, this is an excellent time to contemplate some of the key lessons 2020 and 2021 have brought to all of us...
Lesson #1: Career prep can begin as early as middle school.
Current jobs are indeed changing at a rather rapid rate. And, the speed at which new jobs and career fields may develop is also predicted to accelerate beyond 2022. It is for these very reasons that many schools are now convinced that career exploration, and the development of relevant skills, needs to occur at middle school grades, and perhaps even earlier. The past two years have taught us all that with remote jobs and online education, anything is possible, and that we should help kids prepare for those possibilities early on in school. Helping students gain career experience today positions all of us for a stronger and more robust future tomorrow.
Lesson #2: Students should not feel overly pressured to choose just one career path, and businesses should encourage exploration.
High school students should not feel pressured to choose just one career path. And, part-time jobs and internships, while in high school, can help students gain a diverse set of skills and experiences that position them (and the businesses they work for) for success in future endeavors. This also has the added effect of creating broadly skilled workers for employers.
Lesson #3: Career coaching can help students choose a career path that is better matched to their strengths and employer needs.
We can all benefit from some professional coaching, now and then. As tough as some aspects of 2020 and 2021 have been, we’ve seen that career coaching can make a significant and positive difference during those rough patches. A coach, whether professional or provided as an on-the-job mentor, can help students quickly discover careers that match their personality, natural abilities, and strengths – all while creating a stronger employee base for current and future needs, too!
Career prep can make a big difference in the career trajectory for high school students, and it can help businesses and non-profit organizations to gain greater support for current needs. To learn more about the benefits of career prep, be sure to visit: https://www.stridelearning.com/career-prep.html.