Critiques the way the United States currently provides “career readiness” services to youth and offers suggestions, many grounded in international practices, to make such services more relevant, especially by recommending that youth learn job skills through work experience opportunities.

The resource begins by reviewing “where the United States now stands with regards to youth experience in the labor market,” and discussing “the psychological benefits of learning through a combination of school- and work-based activities” (p.3). It then continues by describing the Swiss education system as a model because it “relies on partnerships between employers, unions, a central government, and educators to make work a source of deeper learning that meets both the developmental needs of youth people and the economic need for a steady supply of well-trained talent” (p.3). To end, the resource reviews “some promising initiatives that aim to promote high-quality, work-based learning for a wide range of U.S. students” (p.3).

The author believes that such an exploration of youth employment and career readiness is important because, “while the economy is recovering, wages are relatively stagnant, especially at the low end; current employees are losing benefits; companies are outsourcing high percentages of their work to staffing agencies that hire on short-term contracts; and confronted with growing pressure to raise wages for fast food workers, employers appear prone to confrontational reactions” (p.20). She furthers that her goal with the resource is to “argue that every young person should have the opportunity to gain the knowledge, skills, and competence needed to search for and obtain work that is meaningful, and that to provide such powers of self-determination to young people requires a substantial rethinking of what schooling should be like for teenagers” (p.20).

(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

Major Findings & Recommendations

“This paper argues that the current discussion about deeper learning in the nation’s high schools ought to be reframed in order to acknowledge that career readiness isn’t just an outcome of deeper learning; rather, career readiness is better defined as a process through which young people learn deeply and become prepared for the American version of working life. The workplace can be a particularly good setting for deeper learning. It immerses and engages young people in developmentally appropriate, real-world tasks that challenge them not only to learn advanced subject matter but also to regulate their own behavior; persist at and complete difficult assignments; work in teams; solve the kinds of unexpected, everyday problems that occur in workplaces; and communicate effectively with colleagues of differing ages and backgrounds. In short, the deeper learning movement can and should be aligned with current efforts to create better transitions from school to the workforce” (p.3). According to the author, the thrust of the paper “is not that kids need jobs—that is certainly true—but a far more radical proposition both in its intellectual demands of educators and in the organization of learning for late adolescents. That is, [the paper] argue that learning to work, learning about work, and experiencing a productive workplace should be integral to secondary-level education, since they offer particularly powerful ways to teach high-level content, collaboration, problem-solving, and other dimensions of deeper learning” (p.20). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)