Careers 2 Communities

Intersection: Education + Policy

How Understanding Workforce Trends Can Transform Educational Practices and Redefine Student Success

In developing educational practices and strategies, there is a strong need to ensure the destination is clearly defined. The destination can serve as a unifying direction for the educational journey, regardless of the path taken.

While there is considerable variability in defining the ultimate purpose of education, a common theme that tends to emerge is the need to prepare individuals to become independent, contributing members of their communities. At the very heart of this idea is how individuals make a living. An individual who is successfully employed has the ability to support personal ambitions, as well as contribute valuable goods and services to a community. Employment success, then, is a critical first step in supporting individual needs and building stronger communities.

When successful employment is a central component of the destination for learning, students and educators experience purpose and direction in their educational practices. Learning becomes centered around preparing individuals for careers, as opposed to disseminating abstract concepts in the hopes that students find meaning.

 Educational institutions will need to evolve to help students meet the demands of the changing economy and careers. While several attempts have been made to start this transition, what is often missing from these strategies is a fundamental awareness of actual market needs. In other words, the direction for educational practices needs to be examined and clearly established. Knowledge of labor market information is essential in accomplishing this goal.

The benefit of using the Career Clusters Framework is that occupations are grouped on the basis of shared educational and training requirements. This allows for a more direct link to be established between educational practices and careers. Curriculum and programs of study can be developed that incorporate foundational skills that are essential to success in specific fields. Furthermore, clear pathways can be established that can guide students in selecting programs of study that will support their employment goals.

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Note: NS4ed is a collaborative partner of the Careers2Communities Program