Workforce preparation is a necessary activity to insure the future employability of our youth. The skills that will be needed by future American workers were established by national experts and published in 1991 by the Secretary of Labor's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills. Now referred to as the SCANS report.
School-age child care programs provide a wonderful vehicle for young children to work on life skills necessary for future employment. They have few restrictions. There are no competency tests to be passed and no prescribed curriculum to be adapted to allowing for a broad range of new learning opportunities.
School-age programs can use the SCANS report as a guideline when developing their workforce preparation programs. Through critical skills-type curriculum, they can provide assessments and profiles for self knowledge; research and education options for career planning and portfolios and practice interviews for personal marketing.
School-age programs can also work with local employers to provide job awareness through job shadowing, internships and/or apprenticeships. They can make parents aware of the SCANS report and encourage them to model effective behaviors both at work and at home; to talk about skills and competencies; and to support their students' academic success.
The following is a list of the skills and workplace competencies in the SCANS report considered necessary for our youth to learn if they are to become employable citizens.
Resources are being developed to help providers with workforce preparation activities. A few have been included below: Wild Over Work, a packet of workforce preparation activities for grades K-6. It explores four themes: Work Around Me; Work in My Community; Work Around the World; and Work in My Future with a "big ideas" mini-poster, 4 - 7 activities per theme, a family connections letter and a Helper's Guide. This resource can be obtained from the:
4-H Cooperative Curriculum System Distribution Center 20 Coffey Hall University of Minnesota St. Paul, MN 55108-6069 Tele: 612-625-6281 You can preview Wild Over Work on the Internet at: http://www.mes.umn.edu/~4hccs
ACTIVITIES FROM Wild Over Work
Here are two activities which aren't very complicated. You can use them between other activities to help young people focus on workforce preparation. And, they're fun to do!
Alphabet Soup: The Job ABC's
For this game, you'll need twenty-six 5-inch by 7-inch index cards or pieces of construction paper and markers, pencils or pens. Label each index card with one letter of the alphabet. Pass out the markers. Ask the children to think of jobs beginning with "A," then "B," then "C," and continue through the alphabet. You, a helper or the children could write the job names on the appropriate index cards. (It may be easier for younger children to first think of jobs they know and then match those jobs with the appropriate letter of the alphabet. Don't worry about it if younger children seem to invent the spelling of some words.)
You may need to prompt the discussion by asking questions such as:
You also could ask the children to break down a job category, such as "teacher," into more specific areas, such as preschool teacher, reading teacher, math teacher, science teacher, college professor.
Children are most likely to think of the jobs of people they're familiar with -- those of relatives and people they see nearly every day, such as teachers. They also may be able to think of places where people work (such as banks, schools or libraries), but may not always be sure of the jobs or titles of the people who work there (such as bankers, teachers or librarians).
You could display the alphabet cards on a wall and have the children add jobs to the cards as they think of them during other WOW! Activities. The job list could be useful in other activities, too, such as thinking of ways different jobs may be related, classifying jobs by geographic location or educational level necessary to hold them, and researching and exploring one or more of the jobs on the list.
WOW! Jobs Charades
You can use the brainstorming and game playing portions of this activity to fill a few minutes between other activities. Have the group brainstorm a list of common and uncommon jobs. Write the job names on slips of paper, then put the slips into a hat or other container. Ask the children to take turns drawing slips of paper from the hat and acting out the job on the slips. Have the other children try to guess the name of the job being acted out.