Work Ethic is at the Core of Career and Life Readiness

I was recently at the National Career Pathways Network conference in Louisville Kentucky, and had a great time presenting along with hearing several excellent presentations.  Take a look at the conference site and consider attending for next year.

At the opening session, our keynote speaker was Josh Davies from the Center for Work Ethic Development (  His talk really caught my attention.  It was fun, engaging and packed with good information.

Josh shared data and insights on how important work ethic is to workplace success, and how much of a deficit there is with younger workers.  What was kind of amusing, however, were headlines from the 1990s, the 1970s, and before, about how unprepared and unmotivated young workers are.  It seems that every generation that is established in the workforce takes a grim delight in complaining about at how unprepared the new generation is.  Looking back on my early years after college, I must admit to a couple of stupid things I did that really perturbed my managers; I suppose experiences like that confirmed their feelings about “young people.”  Ha!

Anyway, based on data, it does appear that things are worse than in the past.  Only about 36 of youth hold a part time job these days, where it used to be 60 percent of teenagers.  We also know from survey data that only one in 6 high schools has a significant amount of work-based learning experiences, and that about 35 percent of college students ever participate in an internship. So, between the lack of part-time jobs and low level of job shadows, work-site tours and internships in high school, it probably is true that today’s young workers are even less prepared with work-ethic skills than in the past.

So, as part of their adoption of Career Connected Learning strategies, schools are actively trying to build work ethic skills and understanding.

Josh Davies talks about the 7 A’s of work ethic. They are:

    • Definition:Staying positive in every situation. Take control of the way you react.
    • Definition:Showing you’re reliable in every phase of your life. Be on time, every time.
    • Definition:Being professional both in the way you act, and the way you look. Choose to be a pro.
    • Definition:Taking initiative and adding value. Do more than the minimum.
    • Definition:Having respect and following direction. Be coachable and play by the rules.
    • Definition:Demonstrating your gratitude towards others. Provide selfless service.
    • Definition:Living honestly and having integrity with every decision you make. Refuse to rationalize bad decisions.

Not surprisingly, the Center for Work Ethic Development also offers a school-based program called “Bring your “A” game,” – a pretty catchy title too.  I don’t know of authoritative research on the program, but I heard a couple people mention it positively during some of the other breakout sessions.  I thought I would pass it along to you as a tool for helping build a Work Ethnic culture in your school.

You can also look at a sample of Josh’s keynote on YouTube:

Hans Meeder is President of NC3T, the National Center for College and Career Transitions ( NC3T provides planning, coaching, technical assistance and tools to help community-based leadership teams plan and implement their college-career pathway systems and strengthen employer connections with education.

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