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A Jump Start for Careers of the Future

You gotta learn something when we meet you after school. / I said jump, down on Jump Street.
You do remember 21 Jump Street, right? Here's how it relates to being college & career ready...

If you'd told me back in high school with my permed hair and teased bangs sporting pegged jeans and Converse high tops that I would be writing blogs and submitting them on a laptop computer via something called the internet, I would've looked at you like you were crazy and settled back in to finish watching the latest episode of 21 Jump Street. Alas, here I am, and 21 Jump Street was quite the jump start for Johnny Depp! For those students who may not have the option of making it on the big screen though, we need to determine how to best prepare them for a future with career options that don't exist yet.

With our ever-changing society of technological wonder, new careers are developing all the time. Twenty years ago, companies weren't looking for web designers or social media experts, and now companies that want to stay in the forefront carry a strong presence online due to such positions. Look at the changes in education alone. Media classes for education majors no longer consist of how to use an overhead and run a film projector. Many school districts are utilizing online textbooks and a variety of software and programs to bring 21st Century Skills into the classroom. Educators need to be up-to-date on current and available technology to share with students, but being tech savvy is merely one component to help prepare students for careers of the future. The most prepared students will be those that hit the career path with a diverse skill set.

Justin Marquis, Ph.D. shares some additional areas of interest in his article, Building the Ideal Skillset for 21st Century Employment1. Problem-solving, communication skills, and self-directed learning are a few of the key attributes he notes for building 21st Century skills. As careers evolve to encompass the latest advances, individuals that have already entered the workforce may need to self-educate themselves on new components and technology. Building a willingness and interest in continuing education and learning new concepts even after leaving a traditional classroom may add just the competitive edge needed for the latest careers. With many educators moving toward more project-based learning, the desire to learn coupled with some intrinsic self-direction are sure to abound and move beyond the classroom walls. This type of learning also allows for an interdisciplinary approach that can ensure students are forming a healthy understanding of problem-solving and communication across all the disciplines.

Communication encompasses more than just a means for effective verbal collaboration. As Jeff Dunn notes in 7 Skills Students Must Have for the Future2, written communication is a must for any career path (Yes, my ELA heart is doing the happy dance right now!). With literacy initiatives stretching across curriculums, our ability to prepare students for the writing requirements of any career is improving. The template or device used may vary, but written communication must be developed in all subject areas to ensure career readiness. Helping students strengthen and broaden their ability to communicate will add yet another tool to their diverse skill set and prepare them for the new challenges they may find in future careers.

Dunn's 7 Skills also pinpoint the need for students to possess both adaptability and curiosity/imagination. A sound foundation of problem-solving skills and communication will help students with the adaptability piece as they see the importance of reworking and/or regrouping data and information when problem-solving with others. As we shared in a previous post, Effective Learners Report: Curiosity Captured the Class, helping our students become expert questioners to help unleash their curiosity is an essential step in making them lifelong effective learners. When students head into the workforce with these foundational skills, they will be prepared for the many challenges that careers of the future will undoubtedly hold.

It all boils down to the fact that we have to make our students doers. They need to be the problem solvers. They need to take the initiative when new material is presented. They need to explore technology. They need to communicate their thoughts well via both oral and written avenues. They need to pose the questions and have the motivation to uncover the answers. They need to take the information and ideas presented in the classroom and do more than just fill in a blank on a test.

By applying the skills and concepts they encounter in the classroom, students will become doers. As doers, they will be more likely to adapt to new situations that arise along their career path. Since we all missed the boat on Minecraft Creation 101, let's make sure our students have a jump start on careers of the future with a solid foundation of diverse skills!

Additional Resources & Works Cited

1. Building the Ideal Skill Set for 21st Century Employment

2. The 7 Skills Students Must Have For The Future


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