Career Readiness and Cross-Sector Competencies

A new white paper from America Achieves focuses on the role cross-sector competencies play in career readiness. Getting Real about Career Readiness: A Focus on Cross-Sector Competencies is the first in a series of multi-media white papers from America Achieves Educator Networks on promising education practices for preparing students for the changing world of work.

There are many frameworks and ways of categorizing and defining the needed skills for 21st century careers and life; America Achieves proposes that employer and community demands for skills be considered in three broad categories, regardless of the framework:

  1.    Academics and core content;
  2.    Career and industry-specific technical knowledge and skills; and
  3.    Cross-sector, employability knowledge, skills, and dispositions.

While many communities have already defined their targets in the first and second areas, the work around setting expectations in the third category, what can be summarized as cross-sector competencies, is less clear and, they argue, is an essential first step.

Toward this end, the paper synthesizes some of the best thinking on the topic, including workforce data and existing frameworks, highlights local school and district efforts, links to additional resources from research and data to school websites, and offers the following guiding questions and recommendations for school- and district-level work:

  1.    Who are your key stakeholders and how will they be involved in the process of developing and implementing your school or district’s vision of a career- and life-ready graduate?
  2.    What existing state and local standards and/or requirements are schools, staffs, and students already accountable for? How can cross-sector competencies be interwoven with academic and technical skills?
  3.    How can you ensure against different sets of expectations for different students?
  4.    To what extent do you have a developmental vision and approach to mastery of the competencies?
  5.    To what extent is multilingualism built into your competency framework and/or reinforced or undermined as a priority?
  6.    How do selected competencies set students up for life success and help them become productive community members and citizens?
  7.    How do you define and measure success?

To access the full paper, see