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Sharing the results of our recent survey with staff, students, and their families.

National Education Week, celebrated November 13-17, provides a timely platform to engage in a critical conversation about the state of education. The need to revamp the American education system has never been more pressing. With the world evolving at an unprecedented pace, it is imperative that our education system keeps up, ensuring that it engages and equips students with the skills and knowledge necessary to thrive by preparing youth for essential careers.

Why hasn’t education changed?

Perhaps we need to change the conversation.

Youth Solutions is an organization that is committed to inspiring and connecting those people who are essential to changing the conversation in education throughout Michigan. The first step in any change is knowledge. We set out to understand the current state so we conducted a survey with over 1,000 participants that included staff educators, students, and their families. Here’s what we found:

When families were surveyed:

  • When asked if they were aware of the new legislation that requires student Education Development Plans (EDP’s), less than half of our respondents responded “yes.”

  • Only 25% of families say they have been involved in the process of creating this development plan.

  • Of those twenty-five percent who were involved, they reported that they’ve been able to review and endorse their student’s documented career plan (EDP).

When students were surveyed:

  • When asked if they knew about the fastest-growing job markets in Michigan, 70.2% of them answered “no” while an additional 13.9% said they were “unsure.”

  • Fifty percent of students said they have someone at their school who helps them plan for their future.

  • More than half of students said they don’t have a documented career plan that they keep up to date (54.5%) or they are unsure (21.5%) if they even have this plan.

The results aren’t that surprising when we asked school staff similar questions.

  • More than half of staff members (51%) were not aware or unsure (17.6%) of the Michigan Career Development Model and legislative requirements.

  • More than ninety percent either agreed (64.7%) or strongly agreed (27.5%) that they believe their school could be more career-focused.

“Most educators know it’s good and it’s needed,” said Gretchen Panicucci, Youth Solutions Manager of Innovative Services. “We need to move away from random acts of guidance and provide a systematic way to improve career development.”

Our unique and tailored service, Youth Solutions Select, provides schools and districts with a custom, comprehensive, career development program that supports students’ needs through high school and beyond. The strategic guidance within our service enhances the connections between students, school staff, and community so everyone benefits.

We know it’s important to address the changing needs of our students and ultimately our workforce because the landscape of the job market and society itself has gone through radical transformations in recent years. Among other changes, the pandemic accelerated the adoption of technology and remote work, highlighting the importance of digital literacy and adaptability. A dialogue around education reform is essential to ensure that our schools are preparing students for the evolving needs of the workforce and society.

We also know that teachers and education professionals play a pivotal role in the success of our education system and ultimately our students' futures. “Disengaged youth become disengaged employees as adults,” said Donna Rummel, Youth Solutions Senior Manager of Innovations. “But if we create curious kids, they will become curious adults, and that benefits both the employee and the employer.” Our educators need opportunities for professional development that help them connect the topics they are teaching to careers. This ongoing investment in our teaching staff is essential for ensuring the quality of education throughout Michigan.

When schools work with Youth Solutions, they stick with us because they get the support needed to move toward this new model for education. They don’t have to reinvent the proverbial wheel. “Students and staff start to experience the creation of something more engaging,” said Rummel. “We open their eyes to see how learning can be different, while still helping them meet all of their requirements.”

So now what?

We believe that discussing these issues and connecting the right people can lead to the development of concrete solutions that empower teachers and, in turn, benefit students. Our bias is toward action so we want to find innovative ways to address the changing needs of education and workforce, reducing disparities, encouraging engagement, adapting to digital learning, supporting teachers, promoting global relevance, and encouraging civic engagement. Together, not only can we change the conversation, we can create a comprehensive and forward-thinking education system that equips students for a brighter future, with a fulfilling career that keeps them in Michigan.

Would you like to be a part of this conversation and action planning? If so, reach out to us on our website. In the meantime, we’d also encourage you to become part of the conversation on our social media channels: Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


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