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Now more than ever, kids need to understand the importance
of graduating with marketable skills.  

Rising unemployment. Alarming drop-out rates. Job insecurity. Kids today are surrounded by negative news about the employment world. No wonder so many of them view 'work' as a four-letter word and school as a waste of time.  In this environment, how can adults motivate kids to have a plan for developing skills employers will pay them for in the future?

The answer lies in making career exploration self-directed, creative and relevant. Once kids' eyes are opened to the thousands of fascinating jobs there are in the world and the many educational and training paths that are available to them, they become empowered and excited about designing their own unique career path. They learn how to connect-the-dots between their schoolwork, talents and interests and getting a job someday.  

Any adult can help ignite this excitement and empowerment when given the right resources. It can take place in the classroom, at home, in the community or through formal workforce development initiatives.  

Career exploration starts with sharing dreams, ideas, fears, challenges and opportunities. It benefits from lively conversations and interpersonal exchanges, stimulating research and eye-opening journeys of self-discovery.  It is deep and meaningful when it is inter-generational, forward-thinking, tailored to each child and multi-faceted. It should incorporate more than skills testing and job research. It must include motivating self-discovery that guides every student toward an 'aha' moment about the ways in which they can grow up, get a job and becoming an independent, fulfilled member of a workforce that they help shape.

Career wisdom to share with kids now:  

Charles J. Sykes is a Hoover fellow, radio host and well-known author of books on education reform. His popular book, 50 Rules Kids Won't Learn in School: Real-World Antidotes to Feel Good Education includes the following words of wisdom:

•Life is not divided into semesters. You don’t get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time.

•Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

For resources to help kids get future focused:

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