Many of us graduated high school right when technology was significantly advancing. I vividly remember my classmates and I transferring our CD collections onto brick-like iPods and discussing something called “Facebook” during lunch. In order to complete our classwork, computer literacy became a must. Less than a year after I finished 12th grade, Steve Jobs stood on stage at the Macworld convention and unveiled the first iPhone.
As excited as we were about these new tools and platforms that would inevitably connect us across towns and states and countries, as well as give us a space to share our voices with a much larger audience than we could have ever anticipated, there was an underlying sense of nervousness. As more and more reports came out about automation, AI, digital marketing, and online communication, we wondered, “What does this mean for our futures? What types of jobs might we have? What do we actually need to know?”
The world was changing faster in our lifetimes than it had over the last several generations, and it was hard to imagine that the momentum would stop — or where it would lead us.
We were not alone in this uncertainty. Teachers, counselors, and school leaders were likewise caught off-guard — trying to predict what technologies to invest in, what programs to offer, how to better select and support teachers, and guessing at the future of work and community that they were expected to prepare us for. But how could they prepare students for careers that were still emerging; employer demands that hadn’t been defined yet; and tools, ways of thinking (like engineering design and agile design), and workplace cultures (such as diversity, collaboration, and remote work) they had not yet experienced themselves? And how could students plan for their futures if they didn't know what career possibilities would exist for them, the necessary competencies, and how to successfully develop those competencies and pursue those careers?
Quest for Success, an innovative new career exploration course, aims to change that. The course was developed primarily by educators with input from employers. It was field-tested and piloted in diverse public schools, and studied and revised to ensure ease of use and engagement for students and teachers. Quest for Success will be rolled out in classrooms this fall — the first three units are now available for use across the US. These units and the full course are offered completely free-of-charge.
This full-year course helps students understand what careers of the future look like and what knowledge, skills, and dispositions they need to succeed in those careers and civic life. Perhaps most importantly, students will better understand themselves and plan the steps they will need to take to achieve the futures they desire.
As routine work becomes increasingly automated, around 1.4 million jobs in the US are expected to be lost over the next 8 years due to advances in technology. New occupations are emerging that require deeper academic knowledge, technical skills, and cross-sector competencies such as communicating — both verbally and nonverbally, working as a team in diverse settings, and thinking critically. “These are life skills — how to speak, how to present yourself — and [through Quest for Success] students get a chance to develop these,” noted a teacher participant during a summer Quest for Success training.
“My students will now have opportunities to practice the cross-sector employability skills that we know are so important,” added another participant.
Units 1, 2, and 3 are available on our website in both PDF and Word formats so educators can customize and adapt as needed — though we recommend that users follow the sequencing as much as possible to foster the development of specific competencies over time. The remaining units 4-8 will be released throughout the summer. Each of the eight Quest for Success units includes a unit plan, rubrics, student resources, teacher guides, and example work.
“I am so impressed with all the resources that are provided with Quest for Success,” said one educator. “There is no guesswork. I can now focus on making this amazing for my students because we don’t have to recreate the wheel.”
The future of work can feel uncertain and scary; we hope that this course will make it less so for students.
All the best,
Mary and the Educator Networks Team