Career Readiness is the number one priority for students when looking for a college program.
Career readiness is the process of students gaining the skills they need to find, acquire, maintain, and grow within a job. This is of critical importance in higher education, in the labor market, and in the public arena. Until recently, “career readiness” had been undefined, making it difficult for leaders in higher education, work force development, and public policy to work together effectively to ensure the career readiness of today’s graduates.
Colleges and universities measure the ability of their students through various student success measurements, including educational attainment, graduation, retention, grades, graduation rates of various student groups, co-curricular engagement, and other assessment data. These measures gather data that is readily available to the institution. Overall, they indirectly show the ability of the student to do well after graduation.
Student success measurements have continued to evolve toward a more holistic focus on the student, including self-discipline, communication, knowledge and personal reflection. However, students are more likely to consider a job in the field of study to be an indicator of student success, as well as student graduation, satisfaction with the university experience, and grade point average as factors to being a success.
Being prepared for their career is the hallmark of a student who has succeeded, and that being prepared for a career is the most important responsibility of a student. Students expect their educational institutions to adequately prepare them for the workforce with work/career readiness as a top factor of measuring student success. Critical to these abilities are:
- Job Demand
- Preparation for entry-level job
- Soft Skills
- Critical thinking
The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), through a task force comprised of representatives from both the higher education and corporate sides, has developed a definition and identified competencies associated with career readiness for the new college graduate.
Definition of Career Readiness and Competencies
Career readiness is the attainment and demonstration of requisite competencies that broadly prepare college graduates for a successful transition into the workplace.
These competencies are:
- Critical Thinking/Problem Solving: Exercise sound reasoning to analyze issues, make decisions, and overcome problems. The individual is able to obtain, interpret, and use knowledge, facts, and data in this process, and may demonstrate originality and inventiveness.
- Oral/Written Communications: Articulate thoughts and ideas clearly and effectively in written and oral forms to persons inside and outside of the organization. The individual has public speaking skills; is able to express ideas to others; and can write/edit memos, letters, and complex technical reports clearly and effectively.
- Teamwork/Collaboration: Build collaborative relationships with colleagues and customers representing diverse cultures, races, ages, genders, religions, lifestyles, and viewpoints. The individual is able to work within a team structure and can negotiate and manage conflict.
- Digital Technology: Leverage existing digital technologies ethically and efficiently to solve problems, complete tasks, and accomplish goals. The individual demonstrates effective adaptability to new and emerging technologies.
- Leadership: Leverage the strengths of others to achieve common goals and use interpersonal skills to coach and develop others. The individual is able to assess and manage his/her emotions and those of others; use empathetic skills to guide and motivate; and organize, prioritize, and delegate work.
- Professionalism/Work Ethic: Demonstrate personal accountability and effective work habits, e.g., punctuality, working productively with others, and time workload management, and understand the impact of non-verbal communication on professional work image. The individual demonstrates integrity and ethical behavior, acts responsibly with the interests of the larger community in mind, and is able to learn from his/her mistakes.
- Career Management: Identify and articulate one's skills, strengths, knowledge, and experiences relevant to the position desired and career goals and identify areas necessary for professional growth. The individual is able to navigate and explore job options, understands and can take the steps necessary to pursue opportunities, and understands how to self-advocate for opportunities in the workplace.
- Global/Intercultural Fluency: Value, respect, and learn from diverse cultures, races, ages, genders, sexual orientations, and religions. The individual demonstrates, openness, inclusiveness, sensitivity, and the ability to interact respectfully with all people and understand individuals’ differences.