Ensuring students are prepared and have the in-demand skills to enter the workforce is an essential strategy to meeting needs of employers in Colorado. At the secondary level, the goal is for all students to understand and articulate their individual skill-set, how they relate to potential careers and jobs, and graduate from high school with these in-demand skills. Colorado industry representatives are clear that students who graduate from high school and seek to work in Colorado need in-demand skills that meet business, industry, and higher education standards. Aligned high school graduation expectations are intended to be a roadmap to help students and their families plan for success after high school by demonstrating their knowledge, skills, and abilities to enter the workforce, military, or higher education without significant training or remediation (CWDC, 2016).
Clearly, graduating from high school with the competencies needed for future success is critical for all students. A discussion among statewide participants from business and industry, education, non-profit organizations, and government sectors developed a description of Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness (PWR) in Colorado that was approved by both the State Board of Education and the Commission on Higher Education. The work group also identified core skills that are necessary to successfully enter the workforce or educational opportunities beyond high school. The group’s findings align well with skills that most frequently appear in real-time job postings—each of the top 10 skills listed in job postings are included in this document (CWDC, 2016).
The essential skills described in statute support Colorado students in achieving the goals established with the essential skills (previously known as 21st century skills). Updated skills were identified and described by hundreds of education, community and business leaders in the spring of 2016, and are an integral part of the Colorado Talent Pipeline Report (PDF). This guidance resource was developed by ensuring both the statutory skills and the talent pipeline report skills were included and defined for a common understanding. Standards review and revision committees will use this resource throughout the review and revision process.