Charlottesville-Albemarle Technical Education Center (CATEC) is proud to recognize its career development programming during November’s National Career Development Month. CATEC makes career readiness a top priority for its nearly 300 of its students by integrating workplace readiness opportunities throughout its 10 program areas. Along with their industry training, students work with Career Development Specialist Amanda Jay to gain additional professional experiences that prepare them for employment during high school or upon graduation. These career planning activities help develop employability skills, creating goals, engaging students in career exploration activities, and expanding their post-secondary opportunities.
Jay works with students to help them develop habits-of-mind for beginning their careers and create strategies for a lifetime of working. Research shows that workers will have, on average, 17 jobs during the course of their careers. Millennials change jobs about every two years. As our work world changes, people should accept that changing and losing jobs is our “new normal.” Research shows that recognizing the importance of soft skills predicts long-term life outcomes. Companies and hiring managers often rank employee’s well-developed soft skills as the most desired traits in the workforce. CATEC recognizes that soft skills are better acquired with early practice, before students enter the workforce as adults. The classroom, group approach to teaching these soft skills require social interactions amongst students in a positive and accepting environment that promotes personal growth.
CATEC’s Career Development program helps students throughout the school year to gain insight into their personal interests, values, and goals to identify their work preferences to deal with this changing work environment. They recognize qualities employers want employees to possess in their industry and create personalized branding strategies to market themselves. Students create industry-specific resumes and participate in industry-specific interview experiences. All students leave CATEC with professional skills to gain employment in their industries of choice.
Efforts to ensure all CATEC students are prepared to enter the workforce align with The Profile of a Virginia Graduate’s directive for students to receive “the knowledge, skills, experiences and attributes that students must attain to be successful in college and/or the work force and to be ‘life ready.’” Half of The Profile of a Virginia Graduate’s “life ready” requirement includes career exploration and workplace skills education. Career exploration aligns knowledge, skills, and personal interests with career opportunities. Workplace skills attain and demonstrate productive workplace skills, qualities, and behaviors.
CATEC is a regional technical education center that helps high school students and adults obtain the jobs they seek. Students have opportunities to practice hands-on and work-based learning activities alongside academically-driven curricula. CATEC prides itself on its built-in value, equity-based programs, and contribution to students' learning journeys.