In a recent article, the Times Leader reported that state, military and business officials believe that education is the key to developing the skilled workforce needed by employers. They are absolutely correct.
As an educator with more than 25 years of experience, I believe public education must produce career-ready students, not simply graduation-ready. This involves an institutional shift in focus from the mindset that graduation from high school is the final goal for our young people. Our workforce requirements and skill sets have changed, and our educational model must change to meet those new demands.
Educators must teach students, beginning at an early age, the skills they will need in a highly technical world. It is never too early to encourage students to imagine the jobs of the future, including career paths in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields, where there is a shortage of skilled employees.
We need to challenge our students and families to think about what the student wants to do when they’re 30 years old and work backward from there to develop personalized learning plans. As students mature, we can facilitate internship programs with local businesses, coach students on resume writing and interviewing, and work together to determine the best path toward accomplishing their career goals.
By refocusing and exposing our students early to real-world applications of classroom learning, we are setting them up to succeed and meet the demands of the future.
Maurice “Reese” Flurie
CEO, Commonwealth Charter Academy