In-Demand Jobs and Career Exploration: Critical Lessons that Help Ohio’s Economy and Your Students
By: Cassandra Palsgrove
Ohio is an amazing place to live, partly because it also is a great place to work. As we move closer to graduation season, we are reminded that students across Ohio are making important decisions about their futures. The learning experiences, exposure and relationships they have built throughout their educational journeys inevitably influence those decisions.
Beyond graduation, students have many opportunities. Ohio’s One Goal for Education in Each Child, Our Future is to increase annually the percentage of its high school graduates who, one year after graduation, are:
- Enrolled and succeeding in a post-high school learning experience, including an adult career-technical education program, an apprenticeship, or a two-year or four-year college program;
- Serving in a military branch;
- Earning a living wage; or
- Engaged in a meaningful, self-sustaining vocation.
As students are making their decisions about what is next, it’s important to know that Ohio's manufacturing industry leads the country in production of plastics and rubber, fabricated metals and electrical equipment. Our state’s agricultural industry covers 13.9 million acres of land and leads the nation in the production of swiss cheese. We also are home to great careers in other major industries including information technology, transportation and trade, business services, real estate, education and health. Fortune 500 companies headquartered in Ohio include Cardinal Health, Nationwide, Marathon Petroleum, Macy’s, Procter & Gamble and Kroger.
What do these stats about Ohio’s economy have to do with school? It’s important for us as educators to understand how the role we play contributes to the economic viability of our state. Educators help develop students who have foundational and well-rounded content knowledge and skills and are strong communicators, creative, and collaborative individuals who will contribute to our state’s growing economy.
In-Demand Jobs Week is an opportunity to engage and inspire those students. It also is an opportunity to help younger students begin developing career interests, so they can explore pathways toward these interests while they are still in school. During In-Demand Jobs Week, we encourage communities to partner and plan events and activities that will inspire students and job seekers.
Wait, what are In-Demand Jobs? In-demand jobs are those that pay a sustainable wage and offer a promising future based on the projected number of openings and growth. Ohio has in-demand jobs in more than 200 occupations across a wide range of industries. Ohio’s In-Demand Jobs List is developed and updated using labor market information, job postings on OhioMeansJobs.com, JobsOhio regional forecasts and employer forecasts.
As educators, we can help students and their families make informed choices about their futures by having conversations about these opportunities. Using the In-Demand Jobs resources and data provides us a common way to communicate about professions available in Ohio.
In-Demand Jobs Week is an opportunity to increase student career exposure and provide experiential learning and engagement about careers. My role at the Ohio Department of Education includes strengthening business and education partnerships across our state. This includes developing resources for schools to provide students early opportunities to experience careers. To get started, look at our In-Demand Jobs Week classroom toolkit. This toolkit houses simple activities that can jumpstart these opportunities for students!
Coming from the classroom, I have seen firsthand the significant influence teachers have in the career choices of their students. We must more closely embrace this important role we play. Our students need positive mentors who are willing to help guide them through this important choice they are making about their futures. We also can help them decide what education and training pathways they take to get there.
As educators, we have many responsibilities. We are asked to teach, supervise and support the academic and technical content that students are charged with knowing and performing. We make sure they are safe at lunch and on the playground. We are asked to ensure that parents and guardians are well informed. We volunteer for after-school events and manage extracurricular activities.
It is easy to think of providing career awareness, exposure and planning activities for students as “just one more thing” and in some respects — it is. But I suspect that helping students make an informed choice about their futures, and preparing them to take those next steps, is at least partially what attracted us to this profession in the first place.
Career advising is worthwhile and rewarding and can be an excellent way to get to know what motivates the students in your classroom. This is no easy feat, and luckily there are many online career planning systems that can assist students, parents, guardians and educators in thoughtful career advising. Ohio's no-cost, career planning system is OhioMeansJobs.com. The K-12 backpack function allows students to learn more about their career interests and in-demand jobs, build résumés, take practice ACT and WorkKeys assessments, search for college and training programs, create a budget based on future expenses, and develop meaningful academic and career plans for high school and beyond.
Want to hear from other schools and districts doing this work? Come check out our Career Connections conference on July 29. Want even more resources on how schools and businesses can partner to provide students with more opportunities to get a head start on their futures? Visit SuccessBound.Ohio.gov.
I look forward to continuing this conversation with you! Let’s connect on Twitter @cpalsgrove, or you can email me at Cassandra.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy In-Demand Jobs Week!
Cassandra Palsgrove works in the Center for Teaching, Leading and Learning. She oversees programs that help connect Ohio’s business and education sectors, including Ohio’s Career Connections and SuccessBound programs. You can read more about Cassandra by clicking here.