Engaging in hands-on learning, building real-world understanding, and supporting workplace-ready skills are critical for preparing students to succeed in their future careers. And while many educators integrate these approaches every day in their schools and classrooms, there’s no substitute for the real thing: giving students the opportunity to learn while on the job. Our recent forum on the Condition of Education in Western Massachusetts highlighted the incredible work taking place across the region to get students out of the classroom and into the workplace.
If Amazon chooses to make Massachusetts the home of its second headquarters, will our workforce be ready? The majority of local employers report having trouble finding qualified candidates. What will happen if we add 50,000 more jobs? More must be done to prepare students for success after graduation and the education field knows how to do this. The problem is that many schools and districts don’t have the capacity or resources to put effective practices in place.
Momentum is building around the need to address social-emotional learning (SEL) in Massachusetts. School districts eager to reduce achievement gaps, increase college and career readiness, and help students cope with anxiety, substance abuse, and bullying are looking for ways to make SEL part of every class. What’s next on the path toward widespread implementation? We’re teaming up with Excellence through Social Emotional Learning, Transforming Education, and Teachers 21 to launch the exSEL Network, a group of districts committed to expanding SEL.
In our ever-changing global economy, earning a sustainable wage with only a high school diploma or GED has become nearly impossible. Ninety-nine percent of new jobs created since the recession have gone to workers with some level of postsecondary education. This climate is putting our most vulnerable students at an even greater disadvantage.
Workforce readiness remains a critical challenge in our state. A recent survey found that 75 percent of employers have trouble finding qualified job applicants. Meanwhile, 30 percent of Massachusetts public school graduates require developmental—or remedial—courses when enrolling the state’s public colleges and universities. These numbers illustrate a clear disconnect between the lessons taught in schools and the skills needed for success in college and in the workforce. This issue needs to be addressed, and schools can’t do it alone.