How the National Association of Colleges and Employers Defines Career Readiness

By Huntington Learning Center

There’s so much for teens to do to get ready for college—both academically and otherwise. You’ve probably heard that college is more challenging than high school and you certainly know, maybe from personal experience, that college professors expect that students are intrinsically motivated. At Huntington Learning Center, we believe there are several traits that make a student college ready:

  • Independent
  • Adaptable
  • Resourceful
  • Skilled at studying/planning to study
  • Analytical
  • Skilled at prioritizing time and multiple responsibilities

At this stage of your child’s life, you’re focused on helping him or her become college ready. The goal of college, of course, is to prepare your child to enter the real world and succeed there. Yet, what exactly is career readiness? And are the skills and aptitudes that students need for college similar to those that are essential for success in the real world?

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE)* defines career readiness as “the attainment and demonstration of requisite competencies that broadly prepare college graduates for a successful transition into the workplace.” Based on research among employers, they defined these eight competencies as being associated with career readiness:

  1. Critical thinking/problem solving: Just like in college, where college professors invite students to express their ideas, analyze information and make connections, the workplace requires that people exercise sound reasoning to analyze issues, make decisions, and overcome problems. NACE explains that career-ready professionals are able to obtain, interpret, and use knowledge, facts, and data in this critical thinking/problem solving process.
  2. Oral/written communications: The ability to communicate is critical in every professional setting. NACE shares that those who are capable of articulating their thoughts and ideas clearly and effectively in written and oral forms are ready for the real world. People need to be able to write and edit, speak to others and express themselves.
  3. Teamwork/collaboration: In just about every workplace, people must be able to work with others. NACE says collaborative relationships with colleagues and customers are important, and people need to be able to work within a team structure and manage conflicts.
  4. Digital technology: Today’s workforce operates in a fast-paced, data-driven world. To be ready for that environment, people need to demonstrate effective adaptability to new and emerging technologies.
  5. Leadership: Whether people become CEOs or nurses, teachers or doctors, abilities such as leveraging the strengths of others to achieve common goals and using interpersonal skills to coach and develop others are very valuable. People with common leadership skills—using empathy to motivate others and delegating properly—tend to thrive.
  6. Professionalism/work ethic: Every industry, every job and every workplace benefits from employees who take accountability and have effective work habits. NACE explains the importance of punctuality and time management, as well as the impact of integrity and ethical behavior.
  7. Career management: To truly succeed in a career, people must be able to identify and articulate their strengths, knowledge and experiences. It’s also important that people know where they could grow professionally. Career-ready people are skilled at pursuing the steps necessary to advance their careers and self-advocating for opportunities in their workplaces.
  8. Global/Intercultural Fluency: The world is global. Today’s professionals should be respectful and appreciative of those coming from cultures, races and backgrounds different than their own. In life, people need to be able to demonstrate inclusiveness and sensitivity.

Being ready for college is the first step toward career readiness, and the two stages go hand in hand. If your teen is approaching college and you’d like to ensure he or she is prepared, contact Huntington at 1-800 CAN LEARN.

* NACE is the leading source of information on the employment of the college educated. The association forecasts hiring and trends in the job market, tracks starting salaries, recruiting and hiring practices, and student attitudes and outcomes, and more.


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