I recently had the opportunity to design a Career Exploration model for middle school students. This was a concept that I simply designed from my own knowledge and experiences of Career Education & Training. The model is all encompassing of career development, and is adapted to the cognitive function of middle school students.
Some might think Middle School is too early to begin practical career training, as this is the stage in which students connect prior knowledge to more theoretical and complex ideas. It’s assumed that because students are at this stage of learning, the addition of new concepts like career development might be slightly advanced. In fact, the cognitive functionality of middle school students is ideal for introducing a Career Exploration program as students begin to develop critical thinking skills, problem solving and negotiation skills, and other complex thought processes at this stage. Additionally, these programs can be largely successful to engage student’s educational interests. Think about it!…..middle school is a period when students experience lifestyle changes such as puberty and self-identity. As a result, their level of engagement in educational studies can be deflected. Proactively, the adoption of these programs has potential to reignite educational interests, and inspire career in this earlier stage of learning.
So what about the benefit of a Career Exploration program for middle school students, and how can it ignite career interests?
Simply put, Career Exploration is just that. An advantageous program is one that introduces students to various career options, and a program that is not void of simulated activities, project-based learning strategies, and real-world scenarios and experiences. At this stage of learning, students have capacity to identify with a suitable career, to establish attainable goals, and to create actionable steps to accomplish them. With a Career Exploration program in place, students can carry this capacity from idea to reality by means of the program. In the truest sense, this is the end-goal for creating access to career; career exploration used as a building block to create a well-educated workforce.
To ignite career interests, the industries of focus within a Career Exploration program should be well aligned with the State’s targeted areas for workforce development. This creates the avenue for real-world exposure that is immediately accessible.
Keep in mind that not all students will finish K-12 and proceed to the workforce, just like not all students will finish K-12 and proceed to college, military (or other protective services), or family. Students will do one or the other, and given the choice they must be well prepared to access sustainable career options.
The thought is how to create a well-educated workforce which ultimately establishes economic development for the community. A few key points have been stated, but I have The Missing Piece to the PuzzleTM……..
“Fortifying the workforce through access to career, employee training & development, and improving business processes”. What’s your missing piece?
written by Chanel Fort, Chief Learning & Puzzle Strategist