Employers Should Request Educational Development Plans
The initial goal of educational development plans was for every student to have a plan when he or she graduated from high school. Capital Area Michigan Works! and Career Connections, a local educational advisory group, wanted to give students the opportunity for career exploration and job shadowing to help them be prepared for the workplace and ensure each individual selects a career in which he or she can excel.
EDPs enable individual learners to develop a unique, ongoing record of career planning; and it is critical that, as members of the business community, we reinforce the significance of early career planning.
EDPs can be a great tool for kids; but if we aren’t asking to see a student’s EDP when he or she comes in for a job interview, the students will wonder what’s the point in planning?
The plans are based on thoughtfully selected and attainable career goals and educational options, while guidance is provided to students in taking effective steps to enter a field. Plans are based on Career Pathways, a curriculum organization system of six categories that helps guide students through high school required and elected courses based on future career goals.
As business owners and hiring managers, we can use EDPs, which are built off of Career Pathways curriculum, to help determine job applicants’ compatibility for positions, academic courses that may have prepared applicants for jobs or a student’s dedication to a certain field. An EDP can serve as a student’s career portfolio, highlighting goals, accomplishments, course work, grades and professional experience.
According to Edith Suttles, chair of the board of directors for Career Connections and also Waverly Board of Education president, by helping students target their future careers, we’re better preparing them to become leaders in their fields. Students at a younger age are more responsible and have been exposed to employability skills, work-based learning opportunities and course work catered to specific career paths. Attrition is lower because young employees know they’re passionate about a field before they enter it. EDPs allow employers to view a student’s career history and ambitions in one convenient document, and classes are focused on workplace skills, rather than just classroom knowledge.
According to Suttles, when the classes have a real-world relevance, the students are more focused. When a student is learning how a mathematical formula applies to the job shadow he or she is heading to after school, math is no longer math—it’s a career.
EDPs were developed in the region as an outgrowth of a larger career development process. Career Connections is the Capital Area Michigan Works! educational advisory group serving Clinton, Eaton and Ingham counties. Each year its board, a regional consortium of educational agencies, employers, labor leaders, parents and policymakers, supports and recognizes school districts who embrace career preparation. The consortium provides a vital link between education and the business community.
EDPs give students a purpose and relevance to what is being taught in the classroom, but the involvement of the capital area’s business community is needed to make career planning relevant to the actual world of work and to show the value EDPs have for both job seekers and employers. EDPs help not only to improve the futures of these students, but also to strengthen our regional economy and the future of our workforce. Together we can emphasize the significance of career preparation to tomorrow’s workforce today.
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Douglas E. Stites is the chief executive officer of Capital Area Michigan Works!, which administers federally and state-funded programs aimed at helping people not in the labor market.