Building Your Path

4 Reasons Why Career Assessments Need to do More Than Just Match Students to Colleges and Careers

Career assessments have not changed much since they were created over 100 years ago with the invention of John Holland’s codes. The assessment taker answers a series of static questions and is matched with careers for which they are fit. 

More recently there has been a growth in digital career assessments. You can read all about it in our blog, A Career Counselor’s Guide to Career Assessment.

With all of the growth in the area, there hasn’t been as much work dedicated to how career assessments structure their matches, despite the growing options that students have today. Currently, almost all career assessments match only to conventional pathways like careers, colleges, and 4-year degrees. 

This simply hasn’t been enough advancement in these assessments to address the current complexity of career options and the preparation needed for those careers.

1. Careers are becoming more specialized

According to a 2019 job trends report conducted by the Boston Consulting Group, in the digital jobs group, the only positions showing a 20% growth are computer and information research scientists. 

The only catch is that these jobs are incredibly specialized. The days of companies searching for generalized software developers have turned into the search for C# .Net Full Stack Developers and Principal C/C++ Software Engineers.

With this hyper-specialization happening as technology touches more industries, career assessments can’t possibly do justice to students by showing them only basic, and possibly outdated, career titles.

2. Education has become increasingly expensive and a concern for students

College tuition in the United States increases by about 8% per year, while the average salary in 2019 only increased by 3.3% from the previous year.

The average student loan debt in 2019 was $35,359. Students often worry about how they will pay off their loans after they graduate and receive their first bill.

Both traditional and nontraditional students are concerned about costs. The Princeton Review found in their 2020 Colleges Hopes & Worries Survey that a student’s biggest college worry was the student loan dept. 

When they asked the question “What’s your biggest concern about applying to or attending college?” 44% of respondents said “Level of debt… to pay for the degree”. This has been the largest concern for students since 2013.

Now more than ever students need to understand what they can do to mitigate post-secondary costs. Career assessments need to be able to show students how different education paths contribute to the cost and long-term earnings of the career.

3. Students have more post-secondary options

Students are faced with more post-secondary choices than ever. 

From the rise of boot camps to an increase in online education options, the choices for students after graduation are rapidly increasing. These options are being added to non-conventional paths alongside attending trade schools, apprenticeships, and joining the workforce or the military.

[Read our blog on how personalized pathfinding can improve student achievement] 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, every year about 34% of high school students – over 1/3rd – will not go to college upon graduation. These students need post-graduation options and traditional career assessments do not meet their needs.

Career assessments must take into account these additional options or students are missing out.

4. Career and technical education (CTE) and work-based learning are growing increasingly more effective

According to the US Department of Education, eight years after graduation students who focus on CTE earn more than those who did not. These students also see a higher graduation rate than those students who did not participate in CTE.

The same study goes on to say that while participation in CTE is high (77%), only 37% of students concentrate in one area of CTE.

Students benefit from CTE, so why are they not participating in these programs?

Some states put emphasis on personal learning plans (PLP), but their adoption and execution can vary widely. Most PLPs don’t include details on which CTE programs might relate to a career and why. 

To combat this lack of information, career assessments need to include CTE and work-based learning options for career paths. While including these options in the results of assessments is a good start, students also need to see how these options will benefit them and help them reach their goals.

Career assessments need to address all of the above

Career assessments have historically connected students to colleges and careers that they might like based on very little information.

These assessments aren’t advanced enough to take into account modern career focuses, the weight of student debt, options other than college, and the effectiveness of CTE and work-based learning.

Only a personalized career pathfinding platform, like Awato, can address all of the problems of modern career assessments. 

Awato builds individual plans and facilitates local connections based on adaptive assessments, student goals, and local opportunities. With Awato, every student is matched with an academic and career plan that:

  • takes into account modern opportunities;
  • allows students to compare academic and career paths to how different education; pathways affect tuition costs and starting salaries in their area;
  • Gives students more post-secondary options like boot camps; and
  • Connects students with local CTE, work-based learning, and dual enrollment options.

See what we mean in just three minutes. Watch a Recorded Demo.

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