Ohio Students Are SuccessBound with the OhioMeansJobs-Readiness Seal
By: Steve Gratz
Nearly a year ago, Ohio’s efforts to strengthen and expand career pathways got a boost thanks to a $2 million grant from the Council of Chief State School Officers and JPMorgan Chase & Co. Ohio is one of 10 states to receive a New Skills for Youth grant, which directly aligns with many of Gov. John R. Kasich’s Executive Workforce Board’s initiatives. It also aligns with many Ohio Department of Education activities geared toward making sure Ohio’s students are ready for the workforce of the future. To help schools and families better understand the needs of future employers, Ohio launched the SuccessBound initiative. The SuccessBound webpage includes resources to help make students aware of the different career-focused opportunities available to them.
Students who are SuccessBound take active roles in planning their futures by exploring career interests early and considering how to align their interests to careers. They consider what education and training are needed to reach their goals. They respond to financial concerns by earning free college credits in high school. And, they follow pathways that allow them to work in related fields while continuing their education. These students dedicate themselves to long-term goals and commit to continuous lifelong learning.
Aligned to the SuccessBound initiative is the OhioMeansJobs-Readiness Seal. The seal was established as part of the sweeping workforce initiatives passed in House Bill 49 and outlined in Building Ohio’s Future Workforce. The OhioMeansJobs-Readiness Seal will be printed on students’ diplomas and transcripts once they meet certain requirements. The requirements include demonstration of work-readiness and work-ethic competencies. Students submit a form that records evidence of meeting the requirements. The form is validated by at least three individuals. These individuals are mentors to the students and can include employers, teachers, business mentors, community leaders, faith-based leaders, school leaders or coaches.
We know Ohio’s students must be ready to engage in a rapidly changing workplace. We also know that businesses are seeking talented workers who demonstrate professional skills, such as being reliable, drug free, personable and able to solve problems and handle conflict. To meet the needs of business, our current education system must identify and teach the professional knowledge and skills all Ohioans need to be job ready. The OhioMeansJobs-Readiness Seal will signify to employers that students have the professional skills valued by business and industry. These skills are essential in the 21st century workplace.
When this language was introduced in HB 49, I immediately thought about how I would approach helping my students earn this valuable credential if I was still in the classroom. The OhioMeansJobs-Readiness Seal requires students to demonstrate proficiency in the following professional skills to be deemed ready for work.
- Drug Free - The student commits to being drug free.
- Reliability - The student has integrity and responsibility in professional settings.
- Work Ethic - The student has effective work habits, personal accountability and a determination to succeed.
- Punctuality - The student arrives to commitments on time and ready to contribute.
- Discipline - The student abides by guidelines, demonstrates self-control and stays on task.
- Teamwork/Collaboration - The student builds collaborative relationships with others and can work as part of a team.
- Professionalism - The student demonstrates honesty. He or she dresses and acts appropriately and responsibly. He or she learns from mistakes.
- Learning Agility - The student desires to continuously learn new information and skills.
- Critical Thinking/Problem-Solving - The student exercises strong decision-making skills, analyzes issues effectively and thinks creatively to overcome problems.
- Leadership - The student leverages the strengths of others to achieve common goals. He or she coaches and motivates peers and can prioritize and delegate work.
- Creativity/Innovation - The student is original and inventive. He or she communicates new ideas to others, drawing on knowledge from different fields to find solutions.
- Oral and Written Communications - The student articulates thoughts and ideas clearly and effectively in written and oral forms.
- Digital Technology - The student has an understanding of emerging technology and leverages technology to solve problems, complete tasks and accomplish goals.
- Global/Intercultural Fluency - The student values, respects and learns from diverse groups of people.
- Career Management - The student is a self-advocate. He or she articulates strengths, knowledge and experiences relevant to success in a job or postsecondary education.
As a teacher of agriculture, I had the fortune of teaching students throughout their high school careers. I reviewed the list of professional skills, I reflected on how I, as their teacher, could integrate these skills into the classroom experience for students.
For example, to be in the program, all students were required to have supervised agricultural experiences. During these experiences, students apply what they learn in the classroom in real-world settings. Today, supervised agricultural experience programs include entrepreneurship, placement, research, exploratory, school-based enterprise and service learning. Successful supervised agricultural experiences require students to demonstrate reliability, work ethic, punctuality, discipline, learning agility, critical thinking and problem-solving, professionalism and more.
During my time as a teacher, I made sure all my students were members of the Future Farmers of America (FFA). For those of you not familiar, FFA is the youth development organization for agricultural education students. It provides life-changing experiences for its members. FFA programs and activities allow students to further demonstrate the professional skills listed above. This is evident in the FFA’s Code of Ethics.
FFA members conduct themselves at all times to be a credit to their organization, chapter, school, community and family. FFA members pledge to:
- Develop my potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success.
- Make a positive difference in the lives of others.
- Dress neatly and appropriately for the occasion.
- Respect the rights of others and their property.
- Be courteous, honest and fair with others.
- Communicate in an appropriate, purposeful and positive manner.
- Demonstrate good sportsmanship by being modest in winning and generous in defeat.
- Make myself aware of FFA programs and activities and be an active participant.
- Conduct and value a supervised agricultural experience program.
- Strive to establish and enhance my skills through agricultural education in order to enter a successful career.
- Appreciate and promote diversity in our organization.
This blog is not intended to focus on the FFA — it’s merely my point of reference based on my personal experience as a teacher. There are numerous other programs and activities in schools and communities (band, choir, drama club, faith-based clubs and activities, 4-H, Invention Convention, science fair, robotics competitions, etc.) that can help students learn and demonstrate these professional skills. The key takeaway is to realize that many, if not all, of the professional skills required to earn the OhioMeansJobs-Readiness Seal can be learned and demonstrated as part of a student’s total school experience and should not be considered additional work.
Supporting this initiative is the Business Advisory Council Operating Standards that the Department will be posting guidance on later this week. Strong relationships between education and industry are essential. The Business Advisory Council Operating Standards guidance document includes examples of how education and industry can partner together. The Department plans on sharing examples from districts that have successfully implemented business advisory councils.
Finally, here’s a great article I read on LinkedIn that speaks on Industry’s Role in a New Education System. The article addresses what is needed from the next generation of employees, including the following:
- Innovation and the ability think for oneself;
- Passion to design and create;
- Collaborative team members;
- Good communication and presentation skills
- Individuals who successfully can transition from school to the workplace.
Of course, these should sound familiar as they align with the OhioMeansJobs-Readiness Seal, which should help all Ohio’s students be SuccessBound.
Dr. Steve Gratz is senior executive director of the Center for Student Support and Education Options at the Ohio Department of Education, where he oversees creative ways to help students in Ohio achieve success in school. You can learn more about Steve by clicking here.