Acquiring 21st-century skills
Add this tool to job seekers’ workbox
One of the many ways Umpqua Training & Employment, a DCPSS partner, seeks to create a work-ready community is through the National Career Readiness Certificate. This measures essential workplace skills and can be presented to potential employers.
UT&E uses the NCRC assessment to help students interpret the information and evaluate whether their skills can be matched to job and training opportunities in Douglas County.
According to UT&E President Susan Buell, the agency expects to have tested nearly 200 Douglas County youth by June 30 using the NCRC. Of those tested as of late April, about half tested well enough (gold) to meet graduation requirements in applied mathematics, applied reading and locating information.
At the Dillard Alternative High School Pilot Project, 10 students completed the NCRC; eight earned bronze certificates. The other two are studying to retake the test.
Current testing locations are Roseburg (Oregon Employment Department and UT&E), Winston/Dillard, Reedsport, Camas Valley, Yoncalla, Drain, Phoenix and Wolf Creek Job Corps, with Glide and South County in the works.
Last year UT&E hosted tests for 11 Oakland School District students. The district now provides the service on site for its students.
Check out referenced employment forecasts
2012-2022 Industry Employment Forecast for Douglas County, from Annette Shelton-Tiderman, South Coast workforce analyst with the Oregon Department of Education.
Recovery, Job Growth and Education Requirements Through 2020, Georgetown University’s
As the nation’s employment sectors continue to rebound from recession, forecasters are projecting what we can expect in the job market into the next decade.
Last year, the Oregon Employment Department reported Douglas County will add 4,820 jobs over the decade ending in 2022. That represents a 14 percent increase in employment. In addition to the jobs generated by economic growth, another 8,054 jobs will open up through 2022 as a result of workers changing occupations or retiring.
The department also forecasts that 26 percent of job openings will require education beyond high school. Forty-seven percent will require some type of post-high school education to make candidates competitive. And a bachelor’s degree or higher will be needed for about 18 percent of the openings at the competitive level.
Despite the anticipated growth, the county’s outlook is not reassuring, according to Annette Shelton-Tiderman, the department’s South Coast workforce analyst.
“By 2022 manufacturing will still not have recovered to pre-recession levels,” Shelton-Tiderman said. “So, yes, we’re adding jobs, but everything is still pretty much in recovery mode.”
She pointed out that many of the occupations offering the most job openings in the county – fast food workers, retail salespeople, cashiers, and truck drivers – represent low-paying and/or stressful working conditions with high burnout rates.
“Jobs that provide a wage where a person could raise a family, buy a house … you cannot get those without some sort of post-secondary training,” she said.
Discussions about post-secondary education often reference “21st-century skills.” These may include critical thinking, creativity, ability to collaborate and communicate and literacy in social media. Though the skills can vary depending on the state or even the school, educators agree on the concept. All students should be equipped with knowledge, abilities, work habits and traits needed to channel them into continuing education and career paths.
From its inception, Douglas County Partners for Student Success has endorsed the need for students, their parents and mentors to evaluate the playing field before them, then craft the best plan for reaching career goals.
Various tools (see accompanying information box) identify the nation’s, state’s and county’s fastest-growing occupational fields and jobs. These also indicate the minimum educational levels required for each, as well as the level required to be competitive. The savvy student will look beyond the minimum requirements to start preparing early for post-curricular activities, community experience and the extra training and/or education to be a standout to potential employers.
There’s good news for students who have been inspired by Umpqua Valley STEAM Hub events. The hub, an initiative of DCPSS, has been working with community partners to promote interest in education centered on science, technology, engineering and technology. There’s a reason to spark that interest: Two national research organizations that track employment have predicted STEM jobs to grow at a faster pace relative to other occupations. They forecast that by 2018, STEM employment will grow by 17 percent, compared with slightly less than 10 percent growth for non-STEM occupations.
Regardless of the career path chosen, students most likely to be offered jobs in competitive markets will have two characteristics. First, they’ll have the training and education best suited to the positions they seek. In addition, they’ll be able to demonstrate 21st-century skills that employers recognize as an asset in any workplace.