College and Career Readiness for All: Reaching Higher in MA
At the Reach Higher Massachusetts' convening last week, Secretary of Education Jim Peyser and Commissioner of Higher Education Carlos Santiago addressed approximately 200 attendees about the importance of leveraging Massachusetts' resources to ensure that every student, especially those that are underserved, has access to opportunities that will lead to their readiness for college and career. "Despite our strong educational system here in MA there are still too many students who are not exposed to college or a career pathway,” Secretary Peyser said during his remarks.
Evidence abounds that more students must pursue education after high school. By 2020, 72% of jobs in Massachusetts will require a career certificate or college degree. A 2016 survey of MA employers found 75% are having trouble finding qualified candidates to fill open positions, a problem that likely will worsen as our aging workforce creates labor shortages.
There is much more that can be done in our K-12 system to ensure students are prepared to pursue further study after high school. Data shows that there is still room for improvement; persistent racial and socio-economic achievement gaps at the K-12 level hold far too many students back and 1/3 of high school graduates entering public colleges enroll in non-credit bearing remedial English or math courses, impacting their ability to complete college on time or at all.
Through the Future Ready Massachusetts initiative, the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education supports and partners with Reach Higher, an initiative that aims to inspire every student to take charge of their future by continuing and completing their education after high school, whether it is a certificate or training program, a community college, or a four-year college or university.
Future Ready works with Reach Higher to integrate career readiness into its work by bringing the employer perspective to the table. Earlier this year, Future Ready and Reach Higher collaborated on a career readiness panel focused on how educators can help students communicate their knowledge of college and career readiness competencies by translating their classroom experience into the workplace.
Future Ready Advisory Council member Jon DaSilva, Learning Center Manager at CVS, provided real world examples to attendees on how they can help students express their mastery of career readiness competencies such as critical thinking, collaboration and professionalism by relating times they worked collaboratively with others to solve a problem or demonstrating how their perfect attendance and good grades displays professionalism and a strong work ethic.
Students need to master not only the academics, but also the skills that will help them be successful outside of the classroom. Reach Higher MA and Future Ready are doing our part to close the gaps by making sure every student has the information and resources to plan for success in whatever pathway they choose.