This blog discusses an industry-education partnership between several educational organizations including the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and JP Morgan Chase’s New Skills for Youth Initiative.
During my tenure as the Commissioner of Education in Kentucky, I traveled a great deal throughout the state to discuss our efforts to increase the number of high school graduates who were academically prepared to enter postsecondary programs. Large numbers of Kentucky high school graduates were having to enroll in remedial courses at the college level. Kentucky was not the only state with this challenge. According to the 12th grade National Assessment of Educational Progress, only 34% of high school graduates were academically prepared to take credit-bearing courses in college.
During my travels, I often presented these stark numbers at civic organization meetings. While everyone supported the idea of improving the academic readiness of high school graduates, there was always a follow up question. It usually went something like this – “Dr. Holliday, while I appreciate the focus on academic readiness I have another concern. This morning I dropped in at my local convenience store for a cup of coffee. Working behind the counter for minimum wage was my neighbor’s son who had recently graduated from our state university with a degree in psychology. He is back home living in my neighbor’s basement because the only job he can find is a minimum wage job. However, as an employer I have been unable to fill industrial jobs that pay over $60,000 a year in starting salary. What about career readiness and making certain that graduates are prepared for careers?”
This story illustrates what we as a nation now know. There are major skills and education gaps between how we are preparing graduates and what business and industry need for the future workforce. Most major researchers agree that going forward, between 60 and 70% of jobs will require some postsecondary training. Among these, some will require a four year degree but many will not.
In 2014, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), of which I was president at the time, began a Career Readiness Initiative to address these issues. This initiative led to the production of a major report. CCSSO and Advance CTE then partnered with the JP Morgan Chase New Skills for Youth Initiative to provide up to 25 planning grants for states to develop plans to implement the recommendations from the CCSSO’s report. Recently, JP Morgan Chase, CCSSO and Advance CTE hosted a meeting where states shared their progress with each other, which was attended by over 30 states. JP Morgan Chase is now supporting implementation grants of up to $2 million that will allow 10 states to implement their career readiness plans.
Career readiness is a theme that is currently resonating throughout the nation. The partnership described above, along with all the others in our Industry Connect blog so far, illustrates how the business and education communities are beginning to better understand career readiness and work toward it more efficiently.