Commentary

Junior Achievement Publishes Landmark Findings on Workforce Preparation for Youth

by FinancialCorps, 03 November 2014

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Junior Achievement, the world’s largest organization dedicated to instilling young people with the financial knowledge and skills they need for success throughout the life course, just announced the release of its paper citing key findings from a summit held to focus on how to best prepare youth for the workforce, with job skills and financial education comprising the core elements of success. Given the widespread belief among financial education professionals and many business leaders that college graduates entering the workforce today do not possess the job skills or financial literacy required to maximize their success, the paper puts a spotlight on the importance of fostering such skills for youth as decision-making, problem-solving, financial analysis and the recognition and seizure of opportunities when they surface.

The purpose of the summit was not only to understand the needs of students who comprise the next workforce generation, but also of employers who are looking for specific attributes when looking to hire their future employees. Summit participants developed a model that comprises an innovative solution to arm future job seekers with the information, tools and resources they need to be successful in the workforce. Junior Achievement’s paper sets forth this strategy, which was formed from a consensus among participants and which include a primary focus on the following:

• defining a new model that describes life readiness;
• developing innovative and relevant courseware that conveys this new model; and
• delivering creative new content that excites and captures the imagination of students who are seeking guidance as they enter a constantly changing global society.

In an effort to engage youth by leveraging the media platforms most utilized by young people, Junior Achievement developed and rolled out the JA Education Gateway, which is a comprehensive “blended learning” platform that includes both mentor-led classroom experiences and digital interactions. Within the next five, years, the organization plans to move each of its middle and high school programs into the JA Education Gateway.

Industry observers also believe that the model outlined in the paper can potentially enable a system in which students can be credentialed to be “workforce ready” once they complete a requisite course of study and training.

Given the rapidly changing demands of the workplace that have raised the bar for workforce readiness among youth, as well as hiring and retention challenges for employers, the Junior Achievement approach is being praised for its timeliness, inclusiveness and applicability across communities with divergent needs and objectives. Many contend that as this approach is championed and rolled out throughout the nation and beyond, students will become better equipped to success in the workplace and in their financial lives in the years ahead.


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