Our Mission

Empowerment Through Education

Programming

Want to know how to prepare your youth for their future?

Start Early!image_parents_programming4

Adults have the task of creating an environment that fosters engagement in learning. Children are ready for workforce preparation experiences at early ages, but the experiences must be developmentally appropriate. Children need to be provided exposure to a wide variety of career options.

Occupational stereotypes are alive and well as early as the preschool years. These stereotypes may be particularly difficult to combat as time goes on. Many stereotypes develop and education must start early to prevent making premature judgments without adequate exploration of all options.

Pre-school:

Explore work (chores) that youth are presently able to perform at home and in school. Compare jobs between youth of different ages to find that everyone can do something and that all jobs have a value.

Visits by parents and other adult workers who wear their workplace clothing/uniform and explain what they do in their job.

Work as play – learning experiences around “created” work environment such as a construction site, post office and health clinic. Considerations include: role models of diversity and gender; dramatic play, “family days” around work environments; relating play activities to skills and competencies.

Elementary school:

Although children in the school-age years have given thought to their future, this is not the time to push them into decisions that restrict their future career exploration and attainment.

A great way to explore different careers are organized field trips in the community. Discuss the benefit of having someone perform this work in the community. A culminating activity could include setting up a community in which each child plays out their “job” while “visitors” come to their town.

Vehicle days with exhibits of vehicles/machinery used in various occupations. The operators of each vehicle/machine explain the use and demonstrate what the equipment can do.

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Middle school:

Visits made by student learners to workplaces. Learners experience how to use some of the equipment and their application to the job.

More elaboration of above activities. Entrepreneurship begins by organizing groups to find ways to make money and focus on aspects of experience in basic skills and competencies.

 

Career Awareness and Exploration

Recommended Practices

Children are ready for workforce preparation experiences at early ages, but the experiences must be developmentally appropriate

Young children are definitely ready for experiences that actively engage them in learning about the world of work. Activities should examine what children do at home and at school, what they see around them in the community, and how their interests and abilities relate to work.

Career learning experiences must be intentional

The development of life skills is not an automatic outcome. Many times activities such as career days and field trips are conducted, but are not connected to some larger goals or framework of career development. Specific attention to the world of work concepts may be necessary to make these connections obvious.

Provide for active learning experiences that involve active exploration of the world of work

It is important that youth don’t just learn about work, they get to do work. One way to get work experience is to provide opportunities for volunteer and community service experiences. Exposure to the workplace increases knowledge about jobs, the skills used on the job, and the education and training required to get that job.

Provide exposure to a wide variety of career options

Youth cannot choose to pursue a career path if they do not know it exists! Elementary school students generally select a relatively narrow range of career options. Furthermore, they aspire to certain highly visible jobs, such as entertainer and professional athlete. Therefore, it is important to present a wide range of careers, including those with different educational requirements.

Provide exposure to career role models

Children’s interests may be expanded or limited by the amount and type of role models with whom they come in contact. Exposure to role models is an important factor in career decision making. When students see people like themselves in a field, they are much more likely to create goals for themselves within that field because it appears more accessible.

Focus on skills that would be required for any job

Life skills may be developed in many contexts. They include skills such as learning to work well with others, to make decisions, and to act as a leader. These skills should be present in activities for youth because they are skills that will be useful no matter what job their future holds. Moreover, they are skills that will serve them well in the present!

Focus on the processes necessary for workforce and career preparation, not just the content of the choice

Career decision making is not simply a matter of picking a particular occupation, but it is a decision making and problem solving process. Students who are less confident in their ability to complete tasks and behaviors required for effective decision making are also more likely to be undecided about their career. A goal of workforce preparation should be the creation of sense of purpose and future.

Once is not enough

Career development is enhanced when individuals have the opportunity to be exposed to the widest possible array of learning experiences. Participation in career development activities, exposure to role models, and engagement in workforce experiences should happen more than once and in more than one way.

Activities that Build Workforce Preparation Skills

image_booksReading Books

Reading books can help students learn about jobs and careers directly and indirectly. Students can read books specifically geared toward teaching about a certain career or students can discover what careers characters within books may have.

Exploring Careers Online

Researching careers online can help children gain a better understanding of what jobs exist and what skills are required to perform certain jobs. Even exploring what requirements such as training classes or college courses that are needed for a certain job can help students understand what it takes to succeed in certain careers.

 Career Fairs 

These experiences provide youth with an opportunity to meet professionals from job fields they’re considering. At a career fair, youth can ask questions that are important for finding out if a job or career area is a good match for them. Take advantage of any opportunity to talk to professionals in a variety of career pathways.

Job Shadowing

Typically during a job shadowing expereince, youth spend a couple of hours or even a day with a professional, observing or participating with them at work. They get a chance to ask them questions about that line of work. Get started by asking family, friends and teachers to point you in the right direction or make a contact for you.

Volunteer Work

Encourage your children to consider learning more about the world of work through volunteer or community service opportunities. Volunteer work helps you build many of the work skills you need for any job, such as:image_volunteer

  • • Dependability
  • • Accuracy
  • • Ability to follow instructions
  • • Ability to work with a variety of types of people

The skills youth learn as a volunteer look just as valuable on a resume as those learned at a paid position.

 

 

 

What Is Work-Based Learning?

Work-based learning programs involve teens in practical experiences that integrate work and learning, taking into account the developmental needs of youth participants.  Work-based learning programs:image_parents_programming

  • • Are real life experiences that are structured, supervised, and evaluated
  • • Use the experiential learning model
  • • May be paid or unpaid, but are clearly viewed as real work

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Is Work-Based Learning Important?image_parents_programming2

High quality work-based learning programs are an opportunity to build the capacity of tomorrow’s workforce. Not only will young people be better prepared for work, our country will benefit from having young people who are prepared for the responsibilities of life in a civil society. The importance of preparing our youth for success in this new age-the knowledge economy of the 21st century-cannot be underestimated.

Studies show that work experiences can have a positive impact on both the young people and the businesses or organizations that participate by hosting teens as employees in work-based learning programs.