Counselors and teachers know that the elementary/ middle school development is important. Schooling is a time of transition, a threshold to the student’s future, and a bridge into the student’s destiny. In elementary/ middle school, career development is a time to build career awareness, not a time for premature career choices or career preparations. Career development is an ongoing lifelong process. During the career development process, students remain open to new career ideas and possibilities. Counselors and teachers build readiness for future career planning. Students build visions of what they desire to do in their lives as they contribute to the society.
Need for Elementary/ Middle school Career Development
Since most elementary and middle school students have limited understanding of how school relates to work, students use career development curriculum to build a foundation and the connection between career development, Twenty-First Century Skills, school academic subjects, potential careers, and future training options. As a result, students build self – awareness, possess intrinsic motivation, build a positive self-concept, and begin problem solving about career choices.
Benefits of Elementary/ Middle School Career Development
Elementary/ middle school career awareness lays the groundwork for future career exploration by helping students achieve the following goals:
- Knowledge of personal characteristics, interests, aptitudes, and skills
- Awareness of and respect for the diversity of the world of work
- Understanding of the relationship between school performance and future choices
- Development of a positive attitude toward work
Students who complete career development activities have the following positive outcomes:
- Expanded understanding of the world of work leading to an openness to an increased number potential careers
- Improved skills to make informed decisions and complex career information problem solving
- Enhanced academic, personal, and teamwork skill development
- Amplified career awareness, self-esteem, sense of direction, motivation to persist, clearly defined goals
Eventually, as students participate in career curriculum programs, the number of dropouts is minimized.
Elementary/ Middle School Career Education Models
There are 4 major career development models:
- National Career Development Guidelines
- 21st Century Skills
- New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards
- Missouri Comprehensive Guidance Program
National Career Development Guidelines
The National Career Development Guidelines (NCDG) determine career development knowledge, skills, and decision-making processes. The NCDG Guidelines have three domains, goals, and mastery indicators.
The three domains are:
- Personal Social Development (PS)
- Educational Achievement and Lifelong Learning (ED)
- Career Management (CM)
The learning competency stages are:
- Knowledge Acquisition (K). Students at the knowledge acquisition stage expand knowledge awareness and build comprehension. They recall, recognize, describe, identify, clarify, discuss, explain, summarize, query, investigate and compile new information about the knowledge.
- Application (A). Students at the application stage apply acquire knowledge to situations and to self. They seek out ways to use the knowledge. For example, they demonstrate, employ, perform, illustrate and solve problems related to the knowledge.
- Reflection (R). Students at the reflection stage analyze, synthesize, judge, assess and evaluate knowledge in accord with their own goals, values and beliefs. They decide whether or not to integrate the acquired knowledge into their ongoing response to situations and adjust their behavior accordingly.
An example of the Personal Social Development domain is:
- PS1.K2 Identify your abilities, strengths, skills, and talents.
- PS1.A2 Demonstrate use of your abilities, strengths, skills, and talents.
- PS1.R2 Assess the impact of your abilities, strengths, skills, and talents on your career development.
21st Century Skills Model
The 21st Century Model and Skills is the collaboration of the efforts of education, business, and government organizations. These organizations create a 21st Century Learning Framework that outlines the essential learning, innovation, technology, and career skills necessary to be successful in the today’s workplace. A rich, well-designed learning environment promotes creating, applying, remembering, analyzing, understanding, and evaluating processes. The 21st Century Model seeks the development of knowledge, skills, motivations, values, attitudes, beliefs, feelings, health, safety, resilience, and other qualities.
The three major 21st Century Model main skill areas are:
- Learning and innovation
- Digital literacy skills
- Career and life skills
Within the Career and Life Skills area, the focus is on:
- Flexibility and adaptability
- Initiative and self – direction
- Social and cross-cultural interaction
- Productivity and accountability
- Leadership and responsibility
New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards
The New Jersey Department of Education Content Standards connect the 21st Century Model and elementary/ middle school career awareness.
- In K-5 grades, students learn the interrelationship between 21st Century life skills and personal, academic, and social development. Curriculum areas range from career awareness information and to basic personal financial literacy skills.
- The development of 21st Century life skills and personal financial literacy continues in the grades 6-8. Students explore careers, academic and personal interests and aptitudes.