In a world where the value of a college education is increasingly being questioned, the importance of recognizing National Career Development Month in November cannot be overstated.
As the newly appointed Career and Applied Pathways manager for the Denver Scholarship Foundation, I believe that this month serves as a crucial reminder of the evolving landscape of career choices and pathways available to today’s students.
At DSF, our goal is to guide students towards a wide array of choices, encouraging them to explore various career avenues and discover what truly resonates with their passions and strengths. My role is to serve as their expert on careers and post-secondary pathways at our partner colleges, and one of my primary objectives is to facilitate training for DSF college and campus advisors who guide students on a holistic journey with the most up-to-date findings and strategies.
The ongoing debate surrounding college education, apprenticeships and direct employment underscores the imperative for students to possess a comprehensive understanding of their options. The one-size-fits-all approach is no longer tenable. While college may be the suitable choice for some, apprenticeships, trade schools and two-year colleges provide equally viable paths to success. In recognition of this diversity, one of my main goals is to increase the enrollment of DSF Scholar graduates in technical and community colleges from 10% to 26% within the next two years.
Presently, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment is directing substantial investments toward workforce development and post-secondary education, with federal funds to broaden the scope of earn-and-learn programs. Consequently, part of DSF’s work also revolves around the creation of education-to-work advising resources specifically crafted for Colorado’s leading industries. These resources will enable students to shape their lives in alignment with their unique strengths, passions and principles.
According to the Colorado 2022 Talent Pipeline Report, a staggering 91.4% of jobs in the state that offer a liveable wage require an education beyond high school. Moreover, within the past year, job listings that require a bachelor’s degree have increased by 22%. The report further underscores the clear connection between higher education and enhanced employment opportunities.
It’s essential that we avoid tracking students into predefined pathways based on stereotypes. Every option should be considered equally valuable, irrespective of a student’s background or circumstances.
On National Career Development Month, let’s celebrate the diversity of career paths available to students and understand the importance of guiding them towards fulfilling, sustainable careers. Let’s embrace self-discovery, counseling and exposure to a wide range of possibilities as we at DSF help to empower the next generation to design their lives on their terms.
Kevin McNulty is the Career and Applied Pathways manager for the Denver Scholarship Foundation.