Magazine article Techniques

Utah Delivers Opportunities for Career Exploration

Magazine article Techniques

Utah Delivers Opportunities for Career Exploration

Article excerpt

Career and technical education in Utah is working to meet the career exploration of the state's citizens.

Providing information and resources to support career exploration is key to the mission of career and technical education (CTE) in Utah. Career exploration is considered to be a critical step in the career decision-making process. In fact, that career decision-making process might more accurately be envisioned as a cycle, in which people are engaged time after time over the course of their lives.

The career exploration phase of the cycle looks a little different for people at different stages of life, and Utah CTE has responded in a variety of ways, working with various partners to meet the career exploration needs of Utah citizens. To follow are some sample career exploration opportunities available to students and adults in Utah.

Work-based Learning

Students can see how classroom instruction connects to the world of work and future career opportunities through workbased learning (WBL) programs throughout the state of Utah.

During the 1990s, an increased interest in using the community effectively-both in and as an extension of the classroom-grew largely out of the School-to-Work Opportunities Act. As we involve the community in the learning process, students recognize that what they are learning has real-life application. Work-based learning answers the nagging questions, "Why do I need to learn this?" and, "When am I ever going to use this?"

With the broad range of occupational choices available today, CTE is dedicated to exposing students to career options suited to their interests and abilities. Work-based learning provides students firsthand information, which helps them make better-informed career decisions and maximizes the options available at the secondary and postsecondary levels.

Personnel and sustainable resources are two ways in which our work-based learning program in Utah continues to grow. In 1999, the Utah State Legislature provided an ongoing allocation for work-based learning coordination-school-based personnel.

The work-based learning coordinator is the vital link in providing students the opportunity to participate in quality educational experiences that enhance learning and personal and career development. Serving as a single point of contact between the schools and the business community, WBL coordinators organize and manage the logistics of providing work-based learning experiences for students, including (but not limited to): job shadows, field studies, internships, career fairs, guest speakers and apprenticeships. Additionally, they provide training to employers on educational policy, safety and liability issues, and keep business partners from becoming overwhelmed with individual demands on resources. Thousands of business partners now participate more fully in the educational process, many because of their involvement with work-based learning.

One example of a sustainable resource developed under the direction of WBL and CTE is Utah's Core Career Connections. This project was established in 1998 during the five-year school-to-work effort funded by Congress through the U.S. Departments of Education and Labor.

Utah's Core Career Connections is a collection of instructional activities for grades K-6 and 7-8 that was designed by Utah teachers and business partners. There are instructional activities for each grade level that align directly with the Utah State Core Curriculum, adding world-of-work relevancy for students. This instructional resource provides a framework for teachers to integrate career awareness and exploration in the elementary and middle-level grades.

The activities encourage academic rigor while sustaining community partnerships within the classroom. Through work-based learning, student learning becomes a partnership between the students, parents, educators, employers and the community at large. …

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