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The New Definition of Career Readiness

The New Definition of Career Readiness

Job seekers everywhere are searching for ways to prepare and compete for good jobs and fulfilling careers. Education leaders also are seeking better ways to prepare students for postsecondary education and the world of work that follows.

Gallup's research suggests that America's current system of education and workforce preparation falls short of college and career readiness targets. While just 3% of Americans "strongly agree" that today's high school dropout is ready for the working world, adding a high school diploma only increases the percentage who strongly agree to 4%, according to the 44th annual Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll of the Public's Attitudes Toward the Public Schools.

Americans do not believe that a high school education is sufficient preparation for college readiness either, with just 8% of Americans saying they strongly agree that high school graduates are ready for college. Only 14% of Americans strongly agree that today's college graduates are ready for the world of work.

This harsh indictment calls for a new vision for college and career readiness. In early 2012, leaders from more than 25 national education, business, philanthropic, and policy groups, including Gallup, came together to form the Career Readiness Partner Council (CRPC), coordinated by the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc). The CRPC's goal is to enhance reform efforts for college and career readiness, and to bring clarity and focus to what it means to be career ready.

Today marks the launch of a new website, The organization calls for a more inclusive approach that combines education and workforce preparation under one umbrella. This new definition challenges the historical belief that career readiness is a one-way street that starts in K-12 and runs through college, ending as one enters a career. These days, it is increasingly common for adults to return to school - whether in community college, night classes, or online, or as full-time students - to brush up on their knowledge and skills, obtain specific job training, or make an entire career change. Therefore, the CRPC recognizes that career readiness is a lifelong process that connects education and employment to achieve a fulfilling, financially secure, and successful career.

Further, the CRPC acknowledges that developing one's innate talents is essential for career readiness and necessary for engaging in today's fast-paced, global economy. While academic, technical, and workplace knowledge, skills, and dispositions vary from one career to another and change over time, one's innate talents remain consistent. Gallup has helped more than 8 million people on their path to college and career readiness by discovering their talents through the Clifton StrengthsFinder. The unprecedented level of self-awareness that results from developing one's strengths is particularly beneficial during times of transition, such as when students move from high school to ongoing education, students graduate from school and join the workforce, and employees experience a job change. Through decades of research, Gallup has found that when students and employees discover, develop, and use their strengths, they are more likely to be involved in and enthusiastic about their school and their work.

There are few jobs in our economy where the knowledge and skills necessary for getting hired are still sufficient several years later. Today's world of education and work requires constant acquisition of new skills, education, and experiences to prepare for the inevitable changes that will occur. Today's announcement from the CRPC offers clear guidance and lays out the next steps for policymakers, teachers, employers, parents, students, and communities on how to move toward career readiness.


Tim Hodges, Ph.D., is a Senior Consultant at Gallup.

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