Skip to main content

Career-readiness skills students should have before graduating

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 10, 2015 11:08 AM

The Common Core State Standards emphasize preparing students for their future paths, whether they're planning on going to a traditional four-year college or are opting to start a career in an entry-level position after graduating. College and career readiness requires teachers to focus not just on helping students pass their classes, but on teaching the skills they'll need as they move on from high school. But what does it mean for students to be ready for a career? Though different careers require varied skill sets, there are some general abilities students can use in almost anything they do. Here are a few key college-readiness skills the Common Core stresses:

Written communication
One of the most important skills taught in English/language arts classrooms is how to communicate effectively through writing. The Common Core asks students to begin writing in kindergarten. By the end of 12th grade, they should be able to draft various styles of texts at a high level of complexity. Almost all jobs require written communication in some way, and in fact, according to a survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, written communication is the third most valuable skill a prospective job candidate can have.

Tech skills
Increasingly, companies are requiring their employees to understand not just computer basics, but more advanced technological and Web skills too. Because Common Core-aligned exams are taken on the computer, children are expected to begin learning basic tech skills early. But that's not all: The Common Core also asks students to use technology and software to write and publish writing, perform research, create spreadsheets and more. In short, students can expect to be comfortable with using technology in various ways before graduating high school.

Critical thinking and problem solving
According to a report from the Society for Human Resource Management, 92 percent of employers say that critical-thinking and problem-solving skills are very important. So, how can students learn these skills in schools? The CCSS emphasizes critical thinking in almost every subject, from breaking down complex texts to being able to solve difficult math problems using mathematical reasoning. Students are encouraged to think critically and creatively to understand what they're learning on a deeper level.

The NACE survey also found that employers rank being able to work in a team as the No. 1 most important skill. Any career requires being able to work professionally and effectively with others, which is why it's critical for students to learn to collaborate at a young age. Group projects, peer editing, class discussions and more can all enhance students' ability to collaborate.