Bridging The Greatest Opportunity Divide
The heart of Amy Carrier’s model and mission.
This work is copyrighted 2012-2016 ©
Perhaps the greatest opportunity divide that exists for all American K-12 public school students is the unsupported transition between high school and adulthood. Students are ill-prepared and sent into the world without adequate knowledge, skills, and hands-on experience in the workplace. The present day, and future, of work is global, innovative, collaborative, and requires workers to have well-honed problem-solving and creativity based skill sets. The missing component of every child’s modern-day education is a lack of formal preparedness to help students connect core academics to their aspirations for the future, and most especially their careers.
While some after-school and summer programs exist to teach students entrepreneurship, there is a lack of attention paid to the need to teach all students how to navigate and be successful in the real world. Our children all deserve to be equipped with the skills and knowledge necessary for finding success and fulfillment in adulthood while breaking out of the cycles of poverty that plague our communities. Our children are uniquely gifted with strengths and passions that contain answers to many of the problems in our world. It is up to us to empower students and properly prepare them to become contributing members of local communities and the global economy. First-hand knowledge and experience with the norms, cultures and skills required of every contributing member of our global economy are critical to every child’s matriculation into adulthood, career decision making and the global workforce.
Pathways to success and prosperity for every student transitioning to young adulthood require a clear set of skills and experience. Through these preparations, every young person will be equipped with the tools necessary to become contributing members of society. These five core knowledge sets are necessary to prepare every young adult for success and achievement in the real world and the new global economy regardless of post-secondary pathway.
Whether college-bound, entering a trade, or moving directly into the workforce, every child needs the following:
Five Key Preparations for Post-Secondary Transitional Success:
Community Engagement In Schools
By engaging adults from the local business landscape in regular classroom-based mentoring and workforce readiness skills instruction, students benefit from learning how to interact and communicate with professionals while gaining critical insight into the world of work. These adults in the classroom also provide invaluable open doorways and additional professional connections for students. Such community engagement in structured school-based programming enables students to gain insight into potential career paths while also providing opportunities for students to participate in job shadows and internships. This is how we practically connect “the village” with all children – in the safe and managed environments of our schools.
Local “Community as a Classroom”
Businesses that invest in the professional education of students in their local schools are more likely to invite those students into their workplace. By engaging students in local offices, young people are exposed to workplace norms and cultures, and get hands-on experience through internships. Students who attend classes and workshops in the offices local employers, provided through partnership programs between schools and businesses, are better prepared for the workplace. Local students may very well be future employees, so the investment businesses make through their corporate citizenship and community engagement efforts are also an investment in the bottom line.
When we teach entrepreneurship in our schools, students are exposed to innumerable skills that prepare them for the world of work. Not only are they learning how to become future innovators, problem solvers, critical thinkers, collaborators and communicators, they are also gaining keen insight into their individual areas of interest within working the business world. A school-based entrepreneurship class empowers students to identify and solve the problems they see existing in their community and the world at large while applying the core curriculum skills and knowledge they have gained elsewhere in school. By empowering students to become innovators, they gain confidence, a broad skill-set, and awareness of the innovation sector as a career path. Just as importantly, the entrepreneurship experience greatly informs the career and college major decision making process. Entrepreneurship programs, whether school-based or after school, further engage the local business and innovation community to provide mentoring, feedback, and connections to other professionals and learning opportunities.
Career and Life Skills
Students need and deserve to be taught the “rules of the road” for navigating life, career and a rewarding adulthood. Students must be taught skills that help them navigate both life and career. A whole-student approach includes curriculum that teaches soft skills such as confidence, empathy, conflict resolution, cultural sensitivity, and communication skills to support them both personally and professionally. As we prepare our young people for success in the work space, we must teach them financial literacy, professionalism, resume writing, interviewing, presentation skills, networking and a myriad of other norms associated with successfully navigating adulthood.
Professional Networks for Students
A network of invested professional adults create a critical safety net for every student graduating from high school and transitioning into adulthood. Through the aforementioned learning opportunities, all of which engage professional adults from local businesses, students, with the guidance of their teachers and schools, are afforded the development of a personal network of professional adults. Such a network is critical for every adult’s success, and therefore should be an integral part of the post-secondary transition preparation for every student before graduation from high school.
Children in school today are growing up already connected to the global community thanks to technology and the internet age. Many are tech savvy before they learn how to walk. This means that our nation’s children are already part of the global network. For this reason, every student must be equipped with these five core skill-based areas of experience in order to become contributing members of the new global economy. In order to prepare them for entrance into this modern day problem solving and innovation-focused economy, students need to be exposed to curriculum and experiences that reflect the reality of the world they will soon graduate into.
About the Author:
Amy L. Carrier is an advocate for children, true education reform that puts children first and community engagement in the classroom. She has been building new solutions in education since 2000. She is known for empowering teens to become entrepreneurs by teaching them how to create their own unique solutions to problems in their communities. Amy has been interviewed on CNN about teaching business and entrepreneurship in schools.