Iowa Core Employability Skills

As each Iowa student is provided access to essential concepts and meaningful learning experiences in the core academic content areas, it is imperative that we also look to 21st century skills to build capacity in students so they are prepared to lead productive, satisfying lives. According to Ken Kay, president of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, the 21st century skills set “is the ticket to economic upward mobility in the new economy” (Gewertz, 2007). Business and industry are providing a very clear message that students need the skills to “work comfortably with people from other cultures, solve problems creatively, write and speak well, think in a multidisciplinary way, and evaluate information critically. And they need to be punctual, dependable, and industrious.” (Gewertz, 2007).

The Framework for 21st Century Learning stated, “We believe schools must move beyond a focus on basic competency in core subjects to promoting understanding of academic content at much higher levels by weaving 21st century interdisciplinary themes into core subjects” (2007). 21st century skills bridge the knowledge, skills, and dispositions of students from the core academic areas to real life application.

“The primary aim of education is not to enable students to do well in school, but to help them do well in the lives they lead outside of the school.”
-Ray McNulty, ICLE
Iowa High School Summit, December 10, 2007

In the 2007 session, the Iowa Legislature established the Iowa 21st century framework as:
1. employability skills
2. financial literacy
3. health literacy
4. technology literacy

Employability skills are those which can be applied to most workplace situations. They are general in nature, and cover a range of 'whole of job' experiences. They are sometimes referred to as the 'soft' skills, but this should not be interpreted to mean they are dispensable or easy to learn. For many students, mastering employability skills can be a challenging and confronting process, requiring intensive teacher and school input and explicit teaching, role modeling and task planning.

The Iowa Core Curriculum Employability skills are:

  • Communicate and work productively with others, incorporating different perspectives and cross cultural understanding, to increase innovation and the quality of work
  • Adapt to various roles and responsibilities and work flexibly in climates of ambiguity and changing priorities
  • Demonstrate leadership skills, integrity, ethical behavior, and social responsibility while collaborating to achieve common goals
  • Demonstrate initiative and self-direction through high achievement and lifelong learning while exploring the ways individual talents and skills can be used for productive outcomes in personal and professional life
  • Demonstrate productivity and accountability by meeting high expectations

Listed below are free online resources to support teaching employability skills.

NetTrekker Career Skills: Career Preparation

NetTrekker Career Skills: Job Preparation

NetTrekker Career Skills: On the Job

IPTV Guidance, Careers, and Vocational Resources

Road Map to Recruit and Retain Young People to Iowa

Iowa Association for Career and Technical Education

Employability Skills Profile

Saskatchewan Education: Career and Work Exploration

National Work Readiness Council: Skills New Workers in Entry-Level Jobs Need

Are They Really Ready To Work?

Promethean: Employability Skills

The 21st Century Student: Skills for the New Economy

Edutopia: Crash Course: Learning to Go From Schools to Career

From MySpace to My Job: Online Interaction Prepares Students for Employment

Minnesota Business Academy: Kids Learn the Connection Between School and the Real World

Learn & Live: Preparing for Life Beyond School

Biotech Academy: Challenging Assumptions and Changing Lives

Student Entrepreneurs Win Big: "Changing the World and Our Community"

Online self-report survey to assess one’s level of performance with regard to employability skills.

NWREL: Developing Employabilty Skills

Employability Skills Assessment: Self Report Survey

Conference Board of Canada: Employability Skills

The Career Education Consumer Report

Career Advisor

Wage Finder

Tennessee: Teens2Work

Career OneStop: Explore Careers and Salary Ranges

US Department of Labor: Occupational Outlook Handbook 2008/8 Edition

Wall Street Journal's Career Journal: Salary and Hiring Info by Industry

Wired Science: Careers in Science

Livelyhood: Careers and Vocational Education Classroom Resources

In the Mix: Careers: Focus on Your Future