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Career Exploration


The skills gap refers to “a fundamental mismatch between the skills that employers rely upon in their employees, and the skills that job seekers possess,” according to the Brookings Institution. This gap makes it difficult for both individuals to find jobs and employers to find skilled employees – employers are simply not interested in spending time and effort to teach employees the skills and knowledge that they should be bringing to the job themselves. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, there are stark contrasts between how employers perceive students entering the job market and how students perceive themselves entering the workforce. For example, “employers often rate the proficiency of recent college graduates lower than do the students themselves,” suggesting that employers see a major skills gap where college students don’t.

The skills gap widens when schools fail to prioritize teaching students career readiness skills before they graduate. By incorporating career readiness education into their curriculum, schools can help to close this gap because teaching real-world skills to students prepares them for landing jobs after school.


Career readiness curriculum should cover various subjects and skills for the real world, including problem-solving, career exploration, career readiness assessment, and other soft skills. In addition to these higher-order thinking skills, career readiness should include STEM, focusing largely on critical math, science, and career concepts. Today, STEM skills are used in every industry, so all students benefit from learning STEM skills as a part of their career readiness education. That’s why it’s vital to incorporate both real-world and STEM skills into career readiness – that way students are prepared to enter the workforce and can avoid getting stuck in the skills gap.



Career readiness is the process of preparing students of any age with the essential skills they need to find, acquire, maintain, and grow within a job, as defined by Applied Educational Skills.

Career readiness includes such important topics as

  • communication
  • critical thinking
  • emotional intelligence
  • financial literacy
  • time management
  • stress management

Preparing students for life after school also includes both in-class instruction and apprenticeships, internships, externships, and co-ops, which encourage students to put their newly acquired skills to practice and even pick up new real-world skills they can’t necessarily acquire from inside a classroom.

Career readiness education is critical in schools because it prepares students for life after college as they begin their careers, equipping them with the skills necessary to navigate the workforce. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, career readiness skills, or what they refer to as transferable or employability skills, “provide students with a competitive edge during interviews and internships for current and future careers” and “can differentiate a good employee from a great one.” These critical skills, not often made a priority in schools, give students the edge they need to land jobs.