A Recipe for Creating Careers

By Diane Ross, M.Ed., Realityworks Senior Field Account Manager for NC, SC, VA, WV

Creating Careers, not preparing students for a job. That’s the message I took away from a recent meeting with Dr. David Barbour with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. During our time Barbour, an education consultant for Career and Technical Education (CTE), discussed how and why his department is focusing on Creating Careers, not simply preparing students for a job.

Pushback

The main reason for resistance Barbour hears from parents who may be reluctant to encourage children to take CTE Course is based on an old premise. Many still believe students should get trained for a job at a company and work at that job their entire lifetime. That just isn’t how companies work anymore. Some manufacturers get bigger, others are absorbed by a new industry or the products become outdated and the company chooses to go out of business. This has left some parents facing unemployment late in life. The adage of getting and staying at a job your whole life no longer works today.

The Recipe for Success

Barbour is embracing a whole new way of looking at preparing students for the workforce:  he calls it ‘prepare for careers, prepare for education’ (education, work, education, work). He believes that schools need to prepare students for a career, not just a job. This means learning skills and getting a job, then pursuing more education and moving up the job/career ladder. Through this recipe for Creating Careers, students are prepared to work for any company because they have the basic premise of how a company operates and are continually building skill and knowledge. The employee becomes a lifelong learner, continuing to advance in their career and ready to move into a new and better job.

A Bright Future

Nationwide, the graduation rate for students enrolled in a CTE Concentrated course is 13% higher (90%) than students enrolled in other courses. More than 75% of secondary CTE concentrators pursued postsecondary education shortly after high school. This supports that ‘education’, ‘work’, ‘education’, ‘work’ thinking. Building a career is personally rewarding, creates a strong workforce and allows people to thrive. CTE is truly a key element to building a bright future for our emerging workforce.

5 Great Ways to Bring Soft Skills into the CTE Classroom

Soft skills, employability skills, people skills… however you refer to them, soft skills are critical to career success. Research conducted by Harvard University, the Carnegie Foundation and Stanford Research Center concluded that 85% of job success comes from having well‐developed soft and people skills, and only 15% of job success comes from technical skills and knowledge.

So how can we ensure that skills are being taught in every CTE class?

Realityworks created its own program: the RealCareer™ Employability Skills Program. Through our research, talking with educators and confirming information with business owners, we found a lot of great ways to not only engage students in this topic but to help them carry these skills on in life.

We know that adding additional topics to your curriculum can be scary. We also know educators do not have a lot of time and sometimes are unsure how to start incorporating this topic into their program.

Use the 5 ideas below to incorporate soft skill development into your classroom without stress.

Keep in mind, these ideas could work for different CTE areas, including engineering, nursing, Family and Consumer Sciences, welding and business. The goal is to start addressing these skills in your classroom!

  1. Create Conversation Cards. Write a variety of conversation topics onto note cards: “Describe the last book you read,” “Discuss the previous assignment and how you handled the questions,” or “What do you want to do after high school?” Then take 5 minutes of each class to pair students up with one conversation card and have them discuss the topic. Use this activity to teach communication skills and show your students how to converse with their peers.

Great for: ANY PATHWAY!  Make your cards about topics in class or make them general!

  1. Bring in guest speakers. Ask community members in your area of education to speak to the class on soft skills topics. Recommended questions include: “What soft skills are important to your profession?” “What soft skills have you used in the last week at work?” “How can working on soft skills get me a job?”

Great for: ANY PATHWAY!  Invite someone in that has a career your students might want someday.

  1. Take time to reflect. If you are working on specific soft skills, make sure you give students a few minutes at the end of class to write about what went well, what could be improved on and what they noticed. For example, if they are working in a group, they are developing the ability to work on a team. Have them reflect about what it is like working in a team. If they just presented on a topic to their classmates, have them reflect on how they felt presenting, what could have made the presentation go better and what they did right.

Great for: ANY PATHWAY!  Reflection time is working on critical thinking – one of the big soft skills needed in today’s work place.

  1. Create responsibility in the classroom. This could mean:
    1. Having students use day planners to help with time management (encourage blocking time for homework)
    2. Having students take care of a plant for the semester – plant it, water it, feed it and care for it. While simple, this is great for responsibility!

Great for: ANY PATHWAY! No matter what class you teach, your students need to show up on time, prepared and ready to listen and participate in class. These are all soft skills.

  1. Get the RealCareer Employability Skills Program. This program is filled with activities that hit on the KEY soft skills needed to succeed. It includes a full curriculum, workbooks, scenario cards and presentation slides. This out-of-the-box program makes it SIMPLE to incorporate soft skills in ANY CTE pathway.

Missed our webinar, “5 Ways to Address Soft Skill Development in any CTE Classroom?” Watch the recording here.

5 Key Soft Skills

What are Soft Skills? Soft skills are personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people. Recent studies have found that employers think personality skills are just as important, if not more important, than hard skills.

This infographic discusses five key soft skills and why employers find them to be essential in today’s workplace. Download it today as a daily reminder for your students of the importance of developing these skills.

Learn More: In our recent webinar, Best Practices for Teaching Soft Skills, we share tips and best practices for teaching students the soft skills they’ll need for life beyond the classroom. Watch it here.

It’s Time to Focus on Time Management

By Denise Bodart, Realityworks RealCare Product Manager

TimeManagement

All day, every day, we take steps to manage our time. From coordinating calendars and communicating with loved ones to prioritizing tasks at work and home, we are challenged on a daily basis to balance the time we are given each day. Time management is so important, in fact, that February is National Time Management Month!

Time management is an important skill that helps keep personal and professional priorities under control. It also helps reduce stress. You’ve heard the saying “time is money.” As all employers know, wasted time is indeed a waste of money – and a drain on resources for employers.

Today’s students need to be aware of their own time management skills and how they can strengthen areas that may need improvement, no matter what career path they enter. Resources like our RealCareer™ Employability Skills Program can help students learn the importance of time as a finite resource, and how to manage it well.

You can learn more about how our soft skills program addresses time management by downloading this free lesson, which challenges students to prioritize tasks and overcome barriers to time management.

How are you helping your students develop good time management skills? Share your feedback in the comments!

School Funding Announcement: $500 AAE Member Grant Now Available

By Denise Bodart, Realityworks RealCare Product Manager

We know funding dollars are precious. That’s why we are constantly searching for school funding opportunities for educators. Recently, our school funding experts uncovered a grant from the Association of American Educators (AAE) for up to $500. The grant application is due March 1 and can be applied for by any AAE member.

This grant may be a great funding opportunity for purchasing the new RealCareer™ Employability Skills Program by Realityworks. This engaging, easy-to-implement program uses hands-on activities and real-world applications to teach students 20 soft skills, from communication and interpersonal skills to time management and responsibility – and best of all, the program is just $499.

The RealCareer™ Employability Skills Program

The RealCareer™ Employability Skills Program

It includes:

  • 19-lesson teacher guide
  • Set of 20 student workbooks
  • 19 Career-Ready Workplace Scenario Cards
  • 33 presentation slides

Learn more about this turnkey program here.  Find the grant application here.

When completing the grant application you’ll be asked to answer four key questions. To expedite your application process, we have provided the answers regarding our Employability Skills Program for you below:

  1. List of the materials that you are asking for: 19-lesson teacher guide, set of 20 student workbooks, 19 Career-Ready Workplace Scenario Cards, 33 presentation slides.
  1. What will these materials be used for and why are they needed? Helping students become college and career-ready is a primary goal our programs. One way to ensure career readiness is to give students the opportunity to actively practice a variety of soft skills. There is a soft skills gap currently in the United States which exceeds the technical skills gap we hear so much about.
  1. What will be the benefit for the students in your class and/or school from receiving these materials? This program gives students the opportunity for practical application of 20 different soft skills needed to get and keep a job. Each lesson includes two to four activities with students actively using the soft skill highlighted in that lesson in a variety of workplace scenarios and challenges.
  1. Include a lesson plan illustrating how these materials will be used. Click here for a sample lesson.

Not the grant for you, but want to find more school funding opportunities? We offer a robust Funding Center on our website. It includes information on fundraising and donations, PTAs and booster clubs, grants and crowdfunding. We even offer a free, searchable grants database. Click here to start exploring.