News + Ideas

Live From Summit 2017: Preparing Students for the World of Work

This thought-provoking session was moderated by Lisette Nieves of Lingo Ventures. Joining her as panelists were:

  • Michael Collins, Vice President at Jobs for the Future
  • Dr. Noel Anderson, Clinical Professor of Educational Leadership and Director of the Educational Leadership Program at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development
  • Kristin Cahill Garcia, Principal at H.E.R.O High School
  • Dee Chambliss, Regional Director at National Academy Foundation


The session explores why it is so hard to focus on both workforce readiness and academics in schools. How can we ensure students graduate high school prepared for college and ready to pursue their career interests? This session will feature leaders who are finding ways to strike this balance and making the case for others to join in. Learn how non-profit organizations, schools, and businesses are working to help students get exposure to the world of work, make strong transitions to college, and develop the skills they need to fully compete in our nation’s economy​.


Some key takeaways and discussion questions were:

  • What would it look like if we took innovation to be greater linked with academics and the workforce in high school? Rigor and high workforce engagement aren’t mutually exclusive.
  • We have assumed school comes before work. We haven’t looked at creative ways they can be blended.
  • “Can we get away from the tradeoffs? Because this generation wants both, academic accomplishment and a career” – Lisette
  • People of color tend to look at where they work as a part of their identity. We have to understand that working is a major developmental milestone for some people. And consumer experiences can shape that potential
  • We should have a different conversation with students that looks at pathways to prestigious secondary, but also how they can be an impact and fulfilled in the workforce
  • College readiness is completely disconnected from career. On average, credentials (bachelors, community college) can be great, but only if it’s a wise choice that will connect to the job market and career opportunities
  • The inability to articulate what it means to be an engineer in the workforce, even though they are an excellent student in an engineering school, is an issue of college versus career readiness
  • College acceptance rates are sending a signal of aspiration, but less intentional on what the student truly needs
  • Theres a lot of denial about the reality and who we are as people. When we talk about tracking, we assume we are talking about other peoples kids.
  • We have to be willing to ask the questions about whether or not career readiness is truly preparing youth for the future. The goal is to join the workforce and own their outcomes – Not to look at themselves as just a student, but as a contributer to their community and world. It’s healthy to aspire to be in a position to take care of your family and have your needs met.
  • This is as much a question about class as it is race. There is an assumption of middle class values that say going to college is the way to build social capital. Other students need more support in understanding how they can actually build this social capital, and make credentialing more meaningful
  • “We talk about completion and graduation, not what comes next” – Michael Collins
  • This is the one area where we have the least amount of innovation. If we talk about other pathways, we call it tracking. Yet, students aren’t completing college, and those that are have much less social capital.
  • ~50% of AA an dlatinos attend community college after high school (and open admission schools). 1/3 will not graduate. So where does work fit into this picture?

This session sparks a conversation for next year’s Summit on the impact of CTE and other vocational schools on the overall education landscape, as well as the impact it has on communities.

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