What does it mean to be work ready?

“Work” and “ready” are simple words that should be easy to define yet there is a vexing problem facing American businesses: today’s graduating students lack basic workplace skills and are unprepared to participate in a meaningful way in their employers’ success.

It’s no wonder young people aren’t prepared to navigate a job or career when 82% of metro teens ages 15 to 19 have never had a job. And of those who have had a job, less than 25% actually worked in some type of business environment. In addition, when you “Google” the subject on how to get a job, you’ll find scores of books and blogs about how to launch a successful job search; but what about how to navigate the unfamiliar territory of the work environment in order to keep the job? Young people know all the right answers to the job interview questions, but employers say the kid they interviewed and hired is not the same kid that showed up to the office.

There will be jobs and careers in the future that we can’t knowingly predict. But regardless of those job titles and position descriptions, young people will need the enduring knowledge, skills, and attitudes that enterprising employees have always had including self-motivation and perseverance; the ability to identify a problem and innovate for a solution; and the ability to recognize and seize opportunities when they arise. Possessing these broader, enduring skills will allow students to be work-, career-, and life-ready, prepared for the constantly changing circumstances they will surely encounter across all areas of their lives.

Junior Achievement’s cadre of nearly 6,000 volunteers teaching our programs in classrooms across the Front Range are shifting the education paradigm from preparing job seekers to preparing young people to create their own success. These volunteers run successful businesses, excel in the corporate landscape, or simply shine brightly in their chosen careers. The power of their example is inspiring, the power of their stories is enlightening, and their enthusiasm is contagious.