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Association of California School Administrators
Association of California School Administrators
Importance of work-based learning in distance learning
Preparing students for career paths of the future starts today
By Karen Goss | March | April 2021
The COVID pandemic has kept students at home, requiring them to participate in distance learning. The transition away from face-to-face instruction has not reduced the need for career exploration or soft skills development; it has also created additional barriers to work-based learning. Workplace skills are a key component of the College and Career Readiness Standards and an integral aspect of graduating productive members of society. To address these barriers, the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools Alliance for Education Department has developed digital lessons for K-12 students titled #athomeWBL. Weekly lessons are designed to help students develop career-specific skills and explore a variety of careers. Elementary and secondary-level lessons are available at https://www.pinterest.com/a4e0004/_saved/.
The Association of Career and Technical Education’s “Starting Early: Career Development in the Early Grades” (2020) recommended guidance practices that promote age-appropriate career exploration. Two strategies highlighted include career integration into core content and developing the classroom and school as a workplace. Integrating career exploration into academic content helps answer the perpetual student question: “Why do I have to learn this?” The report recommended integrating concepts of the workplace with student job responsibilities that can provide them with the vocabulary and context of the world of work and increases their exposure to workforce skills (Akos, 2020). Exploring opportunities are challenging outside of the physical classroom community experience. Providing students with opportunities, even in a virtual setting, to develop work skills supports these recommendations.
The Imagination Report (2017) surveyed over 1,000 students under 12 years of age to gain insight into their career aspirations. The top five careers identified by students have remained consistent over multiple surveys: teachers, police officers, doctors, veterinarians and engineers. One career — professional athlete — has dropped in popularity during the past five years. The survey also illustrated that boys were more likely to be interested in civil service jobs such as police officers or firefighters, while girls preferred STEM-related careers. Students cited media, including movies, television and YouTube, as their number one influence on future careers (Kashefpakdel & Rehill, 2017). Providing students with the opportunity to explore a wide variety of careers throughout the K-12 system will open students to new career paths that may have gone undiscovered without such exposure. The Imagination Report stated that students most commonly selected careers that require advanced degrees, such as elementary school teachers, police or sheriffs’ patrol, family and general practitioners, veterinarians, and civil engineers. In addition, these careers are forecasted to have an above average number of job openings between 2019 and 2021 and pay above average wages.
Providing students and their families with career data gives them the power to dream big, provides goals, and develop marketable career skills for their future employment.
Preparing students for career paths of the future starts today. Providing students and their families with career data gives them the power to dream big, provides goals and develops marketable career skills for their future employment. Students’ opportunities to explore careers starting in early childhood are vital to opening lifelong economic opportunities.
Students aspire to achieve various post-secondary educational attainment. A sample of high-demand and high wage California career opportunities, organized by entry-level education requirement can be found http://bit.ly/2019_2020CAEmploymentProjections.
Akos, P., (2020). Starting Early: Career Development in the Early Grades (pp. 1-3, Rep.). https://www.acteonline.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Xello_Starting-Early-Publication_FINAL.pdf
Adams, S. (n.d.). What Kids In 2015 Want To Be When They Grow Up. Forbes. Retrieved December 3, 2020, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2015/12/14/what-kids-in-2015-want-to-be-when-they-grow-up/
California Labor Market Information Division. (2020). California 2019-2021 Occupational Projections. Retrieved December 07, 2020, from https://www.labormarketinfo.edd.ca.gov/data/employment-projections.html
Callahan, J., Ito, M., Campbell Rea, S. & Amanda Wortman. (2019). Influences on Occupational Identity in Adolescence: A Review of Research and Programs. Irvine, CA: Connected Learning Alliance
Kashefpakdel, D. E., & Rehill, J. (2017). Career-related learning in primary. 84. The 2017 Imagination Report: What Kids Want to Be When They Grow Up. (2017, December 22). Fatherly. https://www.fatherly.com/love-money/work-money/the-2017-imagination-report-what-kids-want-to-be-when-they-grow-up/
Karen Goss is the K12 Pathway Coordinator in the Chaffey Community College District.
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