Submitted by: Kathleen Houlihan, PhD, MBA, CEO & Founder, Dream2Career @Degree2Career

PA School Districts are required under the Every Student Succeeds Act  to integrate career readiness programs into the K-12 curriculum. In order to be in compliance, Pennsylvania’s Department of Education developed a set of standards to assist educators with developing and implementing career-readiness programs in the classroom.

Only 26% of businesses nationally are participating in career-readiness programs, fortunately, this number is on the rise. Strategic leaders recognize the benefits of working with the K-12 community by enacting co-ops, job shadowing, skills competitions, and other career exploration programs. When schools and businesses collaborate, communities flourish because there is greater alignment between skilled labor and the local job vacancies. In addition, preparing a stronger workforce makes regions more appealing to other businesses considering a move into the region.

Philadelphia is strong because it has so many workforce development programs designed to help youth succeed. The regional businesses are focused on preparing entry-level talent by working with K-12 schools on career exploration programs. Downingtown Area School District for example is able to offer events where businesses in the region collaborate to create meaningful career exploration programs for students.  Another example is offered by the Future Ready program offered by The Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia which allows businesses to host middle school students for the day. These innovative approaches help students learn about high demand and emerging careers in their communities and help students determine the most effective on-ramps to dream careers.

Dream2Career, a female-led start-up, collects, organizes, and promotes existing career exploration programs and business-recommended training solutions to local students and educators. Our new D2C Directory gives businesses a voice in curriculum development, and helps schools comply with career-readiness regulations, while still allowing educators the freedom and flexibility to align creative classroom activities with their curricular agenda. Most importantly, students can learn and engage with the programs that interest them, using a discovery process that not overwhelming. As this educational ecosystem comes online through the D2C Directory, students will have access organized information about the future world of work and they will have a better chance of choosing the correct training program matching their career aspirations.

When businesses are socially responsible and share their entry-level career information with us, collectively, we are be able to inspire the next generation workforce and help youth succeed. Join us at Dream2Career.org and help students find and prepare for dream careers.