Life and Career Planning

Education is the foundation of a quality life and a globally competitive workforce.  As such, education must encompass the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and experiences to equip each and every student for lifelong learning, successful careers, and long-term economic self-sufficiency as responsible, fully contributing adults.  These educational goals can be accomplished if all teachers are supported in effectively integrating and delivering quality instruction that addresses the relationship between education and work.

To support these instructional efforts, local partnerships must be established and maintained among educational institutions, communities, families, and business and industry that add context and relevance to education.  These partnerships must ensure that each individual learning experience becomes part of a larger standards-based and accountable system.  This system must seamlessly connect the various educational levels and lead to high-wage, high-demand, rewarding careers for every student.

Moving to this vision of education will require shared accountability between the educational system and students, both collectively and individually.  The following guiding principles can lay a foundation for improved educational outcomes for every student.

Guiding Principles

  1. Every student should have access to rigorous, relevant courses and varied teaching and learning strategies.
  2. Every student should achieve rigorous learning standards.
  3. Every student should obtain the skills necessary to seek and keep employment.
  4. Every student should learn the skills necessary to access, analyze, evaluate, organize and present information in a technologically advanced society.
  5. Every student should be provided with the skills and knowledge to make a lifetime of informed career decisions.
  6. Every student should prepare for education/training beyond high school, and understand the need for lifelong learning.
  7. Every student must have access to a full spectrum of quality career awareness, exploration, planning, and preparation opportunities that enables them to acquire the level of career-specific skills they desire.
  8. Every student should have the opportunity to benefit from an education system that is able to respond to the rapidly changing needs of employers and society.

To this end, every student must be equipped with the competencies he or she will need to participate fully in society and the economy.  Students should have instruction in core academics coupled with career exploration at all levels, a practical knowledge of current technology, and opportunities for work-based learning experiences and career-specific training in their area of interest.  Instruction must be both cost-effective as well as appropriate to the learning needs and learning styles of all students. To achieve this vision of education, three educational components must be made available to every student.

Rigorous and Relevant Learning

Every student must be equipped with the competencies he or she will need to participate fully in society and the economy.  There must be renewed emphasis on problem solving, teamwork, communication skills, and using businesses and communities as resources for education.  The following components should be imbedded into all instruction and taught in ways that address different learning styles:

  • Rigorous academic instruction applied to real-world problems and examples that draw from the community and the workplace.
  • Basic workplace readiness skill instruction with appropriate assessment.
  • Community and work-based learning experiences tied to students interests.
  • Technological literacy that addresses how technology impacts daily life and the workplace.

Career Awareness, Exploration and Planning

Career education must be a responsibility of each student, parent, community member and educator at every grade level, in every discipline and in every class.  The career development process must begin in early elementary school and be coordinated, supported and linked to classroom learning throughout every student's educational experience.  There are three elements of career education that lay the groundwork for career-specific preparation.

  • Career Awareness - Helps students understand the nature of work and acquire basic knowledge about broad career areas.
  • Career Exploration - Helps students discover their individual interests and abilities by exploring career areas and learning how education relates to work. Students test their preliminary career interests through such activities as career orientation courses, field trips, and job shadowing.
  • Career Planning - Students develop a career plan that addresses both their educational and career goals.  This plan is continually updated and revised as student interests, aspirations and accomplishments change.

Career-Specific Preparation

This new vision of education calls for an education that weaves together rigorous and relevant academics, a career focus, critical thinking, ethics, interpersonal skills, and opportunities to acquire career-specific knowledge and skills.  It is built around broad career clusters or groupings of related career areas that enable a student to pursue a wide array of occupations.  The academic core for every cluster can include the same high-level rigorous courses in Math, Science, English, and Social Studies but is infused with applications related to the chosen career cluster.  Students progress along a continuum of career-specific preparation that encompasses three broad components.

  • Students experience and understand the nature of work in their chosen career cluster.  Based on what the student learns, he or she may choose to change clusters.  The curriculum must allow this flexibility.
  • Students may take courses that are a part of the technical core of the career cluster.  These courses are not skills-only job training but incorporate high levels of academics that students learn within the discipline.  Students participate in career-related internships.
  • Students may enter occupations within their chosen career cluster through specialized skill training at the secondary and post-secondary levels that leads to employment, certification and professional recognition.

What is career development?

Career development is a lifelong process through which individuals come to understand themselves as they relate to the world of work. It occurs through participation in a continuum of developmental activities available through both formal and informal experiences in and outside of institutions and agencies. Though the term's career development, career guidance, and career counseling are often used interchangeably, they are not the same. Career counseling is primarily the communication that takes place between counseling professionals and their clients concerning issues of preferences, competency, achievement, self-esteem and the array of factors that facilitate or inhibit personal planning. Career counseling is not the same as job counseling, which has a narrow focus on a specific job rather than on the broader notion of career.

Comprehensive career development services are those services or activities designed for and provided to students that support and/or enhance their career development knowledge, skills and abilities. An individual school, the district and/or region or partnership, can provide them. The services are identifiable but integrated with all instruction leading to the achievement of the Illinois Career Development Competencies. They should be articulated across all grade levels and provide opportunities for each and every student to participate. The services include, but not limited to, career counseling, assessment, instruction, work-based experiences, career information, placement and consultation with other educational personnel.

What is the career development process?

Career development is a responsibility of each student, parent, community member and educator at every grade level, in every discipline and in every class. The career development process begins in early elementary school and is coordinated, supported and linked to classroom learning throughout every student's educational experience.

Illinois has adopted a four-stage model based on the Illinois Career Development Competencies to guide development of comprehensive career development services.

Career Awareness helps students understand the nature of work and basic knowledge about career areas. Students participate in planned career development activities in the context of the fundamental learning areas. Career Exploration helps students discover their individual interests and abilities by exploring career areas and learning how education relates to work. Students test their preliminary career interests through such activities as career orientation courses field trips and job shadowing. Career Planning prepares students to develop a career plan that addresses both their educational and career goals. This plan is continually updated and revised as student interests, aspirations and accomplishments change. Career-Specific Preparation calls for an education that weaves together rigorous and relevant academics, a career focus, critical thinking, ethics, interpersonal skills and opportunities to acquire career-specific knowledge and skills. It is built around career clusters that enable a student to pursue a wide array of occupations.

Career Cluster Areas

Career cluster areas are large groupings of occupations that have like industry backgrounds and functions. The career interest areas help educators to make students aware of the wide spectrum of occupations in the labor market through experiential, interdisciplinary activities that reinforce the fundamental learning areas. These groupings help to organize curriculum and activities to assure that students are exposed to the gamut of occupations in today's labor market. The six career cluster areas are:

Arts and Communication

Arts and communications are essential parts of our modern society. People in these careers share emotions, ideas, information and innovations. Arts and communications include such enterprises as film, theater, television, radio, visual arts, telephone, printing and publishing.

Interests and Abilities of this Area: Ability to be flexible and think creatively; good oral and/written communication skills; have physical/manual dexterity; able to get along with others and work as part of a team; set goals and work independently; have aesthetic and spatial perception; have sense of rhythm; is poised in social situations or in a crisis; ability to express ideas with ease and clarity; ability to translate design ideas into design realities.

Business and Computers

Each sector of the economy, from mining and agriculture to wholesale and retail trade, requires office workers and business and financial experts. The Career interest area includes those occupations that support the on going operation of enterprises from other industries, as well as, enterprises that are business-related. Business services, finance, insurance, real estate, and wholesale and retail trade are included in this career interest area.

Interests and Abilities of this Area: Like to operate computers or other business machines; like to work with numbers, writing letters, filing records, or preparing reports; prefer performing detailed work; give and receive information; enjoy making speeches, debating, or persuading other people; like to greet people, answer questions or help customers; seen as a leader by your peers; prefer to plan and direct activities of other people; prefer your work structured.

Engineering and Industrial Technology

Modern technology has an enormous effect on our lives. The occupations represented in this career interest area use and produce technology that make life simpler. Manufacturing, construction, transportation and engineering are included in this career interest area. Scientists, engineers, technologists and technicians all con-tribute to the development of technology.

Interests and Abilities of this Area: An aptitude in mathematics and/or science; ability to communicate and get along with others; leadership skills and good judgment, good physical skills and stamina; ability to be accurate and concentrate; curiosity and ability to solve a problem with creativity; a preference for working with your hands; ability to use logic to solve problems; good organizational skills and the ability to complete projects; composure under stress or in a crisis; ability to analyze problems; ability to understand and pay close attention to standards; pride in doing a job right the first time.

Health Care

Health care services, with its advanced technological changes and high degree of specialization, offer many individual challenges. People working in health care services may work in a variety of settings including hospitals, medical and dental offices, community health care clinics, research laboratories and homes.

Interests and Abilities of this Area: Ability to be accurate; is alert and composed in a crisis; is thoughtful, sensitive and patient; is comfortable in leadership roles; can work as part of a team; is flexible and enjoy varied tasks; can think critically and creatively; have good physical skills and enjoy activities which promote physical stamina; have concern for people and their problems.

Human Services

Variety is the key feature of the occupations in the human and family service area. These occupations provide important functions in our communities. People in these occupations work in the hospitality and recreation fields, public and community services, or family/consumer and personal service areas.

Interests and Abilities of this Area: Composed in a crisis or conflict; inspire trust and confidence in others; polite, understanding, sensitive and patient; write and speak clearly; think creatively; has leadership skills; is flexible and enjoys varied tasks; takes and follows directions; plans and directs others' activities; analyzes and evaluates information readily; has concern for people and their problems; has good physical skills and enjoys activities which promote physical stamina.

Natural Resources

Agribusiness, agriscience and natural resources include enterprises such as farm, dairies, greenhouses, fruit orchards, nurseries, the production of crops, plants or trees, mining and petroleum production.

Interests and Abilities of this Area: A desire to work in the outdoors; clear verbal communication skills; ability to use good judgment, knowledge of math, business, science and computer skills; patience and composure in working with animals; mechanical aptitude and ability to work with tools; observation and organization skills; ability to work both alone and with others; leadership ability and decision making skills; interests in chemistry, biology, research, food science.