Empowering kids through career exploration is an area Blue Collar Brain is highly focused on. It has been shown that middle school is the perfect time to start introducing kids to a variety of career options. Unfortunately, our education system is not providing what these kids need – and want.
Gen Z wants more career exploration opportunities. 69% of current high schoolers say they would benefit from more career-focused programming before graduation. Source: ASA
Crisis-Proofing Today’s Learners by Jean Eddy, President and CEO of American Student Assistance® (ASA), sheds light on the issues our youth are facing in workforce readiness.
She brings us insights on how educators and parents both need to work together to help kids unlock their potential. This includes experiences inside and outside the classroom. The 114 page book covers a variety of issues – and recommended improvements – we can take as a society to help improve our kids chances of success.
The book answers important questions like:
- How can we make better connections between classroom learning and the real world?
- How can we make those connections happen more frequently in school?
- How can we bottle up the spirit and passion kids have for real learning, and then channel it into meaningful outputs that help kids become crisis-proof; ready to beat whatever hurdles come their way?
One of my personal favorite sections from the book is actually in the preface.
“As a nation we have adopted the mantra “college for all” and the American Dream has for many decades been promised to all who attend. But do those collegegoers know what really excites them? What are they good at? What can they study that will align with those interests and aptitudes to help them create a successful career? And what about the kids for whom college isn’t in the cards?”
This simple statement clearly identifies the huge issue our kids face. A lack of clarity of what path is best for them.
The book features many thoughts that Gen Z and other kids have about the lack of career awareness they are provided. For example, ASA asked GenZ about gaming. They responded that they would be interested in games that could help them develop real world skills. Unfortunately, most skills do not have these implemented yet.
Game developers are taking notice though.
Ender is a game developer capturing kids in games and using the experiences to teach life skills. Kids ages 7+ can join virtual clubs where they can join activities, build projects, and meet friends to talk about things they enjoy like Minecraft, Art, Roblox, and more.
This is a great first step in reaching the next generation so they can gain those important skills, and understand themselves better. This can help improve outcomes of kids finding the right career when they enter the workforce!
How many people have you met in life that went to college for one thing – but their career has nothing to do with that degree. The amount of time and money invested for a path that never came to fruition does not need to happen.
The book covers many important factors that impact our kids and the path they take in the future.
- Embrace an education system that aligns with the world our children will enter. Focus on teaching [hard and soft] skills and experiential learning – rather than test taking and classroom lectures. She offers examples of work-based learning, micro-credentials, and experiential learning opportunities.
- She effectively makes the case for employers, parents, and guidance counselors to embrace alternatives to higher ed, “college for all” mindset needlessly pressures kids. Jean’s analysis is based on years of watching countless kids struggle and to pay for a higher education experience they didn’t necessarily understand, want, and in so many cases didn’t even finish.
- Eddy reports, in depth, that crafting this education reality begins in middle school – exploring careers, passions, and interests. Schools and family units must offer/encourage acquiring firsthand experience from the “ships” (mentorships, internships, and apprenticeships).
- Children already have digital skills, but they need to more digitally fluent and understand safeguards. Fun, high quality digital experiences show young people how their passions can lead them to a variety of careers, build skills for the future, and connect them with real life experts.
- Finally, she discusses how it’s more important than ever to enter adulthood with a plan. The importance of honoring all professions and getting rid of the stigma associated with blue collar jobs/careers (and trade schools). This, along with a holistic view on guiding them to successful futures that ensure fulfillment, help them contribute to the common good, and enable people from all walks of life the ability to earn enough to take care of themselves and their families.
The book is available on Amazon as well as many online book retailers.