Blog written by Junior Achievement North, a Greater Mankato Growth member.
What is Career Readiness?
Career readiness is the process of preparing students of any age with the essential knowledge and skills they need to find, sustain, and succeed within a job. This can include everything that has to do with someone entering the job market; skills, decision making, and being well-rounded. Career exploration is a huge part of career readiness, since students may not know exactly what job path they want, so exposing them to the possibilities of jobs in different sectors is greatly important.
At Junior Achievement North, we prepare young people with the skillset and mindset to build thriving communities. We offer programming specifically to prepare students for career readiness, as well as programming focusing on financial literacy and entrepreneurship. We understand that addressing the skills gap is critical as many graduating students lack basic skills like communication, problem-solving, and critical thinking. Through experiential learning, students build the skills required to succeed in today’s dynamic world.
Applying your Experience by Sharing your Story
What does your career mean to you? A financial advisor may find their career’s passion in helping people plan for a comfortable retirement or budgeting to make that one dream purchase they’ve always wanted. A plumber may enjoy applying their critical thinking skills and easing the stress of homeowners. A small business owner might take pride in providing a top-tier customer experience and a positive working environment for their employees.
Think about your own career journey and the different paths it may have led you. Undoubtedly, your first job is not the one you’re in now. Your younger self may not have even known that your current job or employer existed. What experiences led to your company, job title, and educational background? Where do you see your career growing from here, and what skills and professional development will you need to grow successfully? What would you tell yourself in elementary, middle, or high school on how to be prepared for your career?
By sharing your authentic experiences, you help students connect classroom learning to the real world. At Junior Achievement North, we need volunteers to do just that! As a volunteer, you will work alongside students, share your experiences, and explore engaging content. Our opportunities are flexible and rewarding, so connect with us, and we’ll help you discover the best option for you or your company.
The Impact of Career Readiness
Recruiting your next round of employees is not the goal here. Showing the next generation what is possible, educating on how the world works, and sharing an understanding of what makes your job meaningful to you, is. A qualified worker is a perk, but an individual who walks into their job with the right skillset, knowing that they are in an industry and working a job that motivates them to come to work every day prepared to make a difference – now that is insurmountable in value.
Students in grades kindergarten through high school who have participated in Junior Achievement’s career readiness learning experiences said that these learning experiences played a significant role in increasing their professional development, education, and career satisfaction.
In fact, JA’s recent Alumni Survey Report stated: “More than half of JA alumni who received career readiness training reported that they have started or owned a business at least once in their life. Ninety percent say it exposed them to different ways of thinking, and 88% say it widened their horizons. Four in five JA alumni report that their careers are extremely fulfilling.”
Getting Your Business Involved
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation states “if communities invest in working with K-12 students, they will be in a much better position to create a grassroots pipeline of talent that can fill available jobs.” So, what can your business do to invest in career readiness?
- Volunteer your time towards education nonprofits, like Junior Achievement North, or participate in school career days.
- Offer job shadows in partnership with Junior Achievement North*, apprenticeships, or internships for K-12 students in your area who express interest in your field.
- Support chamber or economic development organizations with workforce initiatives.
*JA Job Shadow offers students informational interviews and a workplace site visit for students to build their personal career knowledge and experience.
Becoming involved in student career readiness is a returning investment for all businesses, large and small alike. An investment is not cash only either; your volunteered time and effort will be repaid through a stronger workforce with applicable skillsets, increased talent retention, and a broader network of candidates.
Visit Junior Achievement North’s website to learn more about how your business can get involved in Junior Achievement’s K-12 career readiness education. Our opportunities are flexible and rewarding, so connect with us, and we’ll help you discover the best option for you or your company.