Blog Posts, Career and College Readiness

Four Strategies to Amplify Career Readiness so EACH Youth Thrives Beyond High School

EnvisionEdPlus enables and empowers educators and youth development professionals to innovate so EACH Youth Thrives – In School and BEYOND. Educators, employers and families recognize that our schools should prepare young people for well-paying, in-demand careers that align with their passions and talents. But how does this translate into practice? What do schools need to DO if they really want youth to be prepared for life after high school? Read on to discover four strategies that EnvisionEdPlus, in collaboration with Young Entrepreneur Institute (YEI), the Ohio Afterschool Network (OAN), Allen County ESC, and Junior Achievement of Mahoning Valley (JA), is leveraging with seven Ohio high schools in Allen and Ashtabula counties. 

Strategy 1: Envision how Pathways can Prepare Young People for the Future of Work.

During EnvisionEdPlus’ LaunchPad Summer Institute, high school teams will learn from and collaborate with like-minded education leaders as they explore how the future of work will impact the structure and purpose of K-12 education. Teams will also envision, brainstorm and begin planning ways they can engage industry, higher education and non-profit partners to create high quality, rigorous learning experiences that prepare youth for future careers. 

Strategy 2: Collaborate with industry, higher education and non-profits to identify in-demand skills, knowledge and career fields within the region. 

It is critical that industry, higher education and non-profit partners are engaged early and often during pathway design. Initially, high school teams should seek to understand the social and economic needs (current and emerging) within their region. Schools should engage these partners, youth and families to learn about in-demand industry fields in their region, as well as the skills, credentials, and experiences that make young people competitive for well-paying jobs in those fields. The Ohio Department of Education’s SuccessBound website includes some great resources for research and analysis, as well as a guide to help teams through this process. At LaunchPad Summer Institute, we’ll focus on a few key steps to get teams started. High school teams will be ready to define one or more pathways aligned to in-demand career fields that are also of high interest to students.

Strategy 3: Engage and empower educators and youth-serving professionals to create formal and informal ‘real world’ learning experiences to practice in-demand skills.

Throughout our work with schools, EnvisionEdPlus engages and empowers high school teams to ‘get real’ by creating active and engaging learning experiences in which students learn and practice critical skills. The most important mindshift is that ‘real world’ learning happens in the real world – leading schools to re-envision when and where youth learn. Teams discover how to best utilize Ohio’s flexibility options to personalize academic and work-based learning. Our friends from JA, YEI and OAN assist teams in ideating how these skills can be developed beyond the regular school day. 

Strategy 4: Continually iterate pathway design to ensure EACH youth has equitable access, participation, and success in achieving their academic and future goals.

The most important part of our work with schools is to push them to continuously assess, design and iterate sustainable solutions that meet their local needs, promoting greater equity, opportunity and success. This iterative process requires teams to not only look at the practices within the high school, but also to create similar, age-appropriate opportunities for all youth in grades K-8. During the 2023-24 school year, our Allen and Ashtabula county schools will engage their middle schools in this work, too.

While our school partners from Allen and Ashtabula counties are participating in LaunchPad to jumpstart their work, dozens of others are joining us at varying points in their work. We’ll get to hear how a handful of Ohio schools are navigating their pathways design, including some who have fully developed programs that they are looking to expand or replicate. There’s still time for your team to join us!