Policy & Research
How to Narrow the Skills Gap
A new report from the Nation School Boards Association looks into how school districts can help high school graduates close the skills gap.
The United States is facing a shortage of interested or qualified workers to
fill job openings for the first time in decades, according to a new
report from the National
School Boards Association’s Commission to Close the
Skills Gap. To address this shortage, the report lays out six
LifeReady skills that all school districts should focus on to make
their students ready for employment. The NSBA is also issuing lists
of recommendations for industry engagement, policy and programming
for school districts.
The six LifeReady
skills are dependability and reliability, adaptability/trainability,
critical thinking, decision-making, customer focus and teamwork.
These skills were chosen by the Commission to Close the Skills Gap,
which includes representatives from the American Hotel & Lodging
Association, American Public Transportation Association, CompTIA and
the National Retail Federation.
members are in a unique position to take action. And the
business and trade association members on the commission are
committed to working with us to ensure that all students can graduate
with the skills they need to succeed no matter what life choices they
make,” said NSBA executive director and CEO Thomas J. Gentzel.
When it comes to
industry, the NSBA recommendations include establishing partnerships
between school districts and the local and/or regional business
community through creating a business advisory board position for
each school board, seeking opportunities for school board members to
participate in meetings with local chambers of commerce and industry
trade associations, and identifying and designating a leader with the
school district to act as a liaison with the business community.
For school boards,
the report recommends the following:
- Put equivalent
focus on CTE/Career Readiness as College Readiness.
- Consider an
option for students to secure a “Job Ready” diploma. This
diploma would be designed in concert with the business community in
each local area that measures the six LifeReady skills.
requiring each student have work-based learning as a condition for
graduating high school. This could include internships, work study,
externships, work-simulated projects, or part-time employment.
Specific metrics would be applied, and students would be required to
demonstrate mastery of critical LifeReady skills.
curriculum and school experience focused on the National Network’s
entry-level, industry-based and locally relevant credentials to
incorporate into the curriculum, either as an academic requirement
To improve the
student experience, the report also makes several recommendation
including communicating and promoting work experience as having
similar benefits to extracurricular activities and sports, hosting
annual career awareness events where young people can discuss and
learn about the basic skills needed for success in college and/or
careers, and holding events where students can tour regional or local
businesses to obtain a better understanding of work environments
available in their area.
report can be found here.
Sara Friedman is a reporter/producer for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe covering education policy and a wide range of other public-sector IT topics.
Friedman is a graduate of Ithaca College, where she studied journalism, politics and international communications.
Friedman can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @SaraEFriedman.
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