What career options are available for students who don’t complete four years of college? How can today’s students best prepare for the workforce of tomorrow? These and other questions will be explored on a local level during Imagine! Career Week, from Thursday, April 26 to Friday, May 4. For six years running, this week of coordinated events connects young people, their parents and educators with employers and youth-serving agencies.

Students receive advice on how to dress for an interview.

Sponsored again this year by Citizens Bank, Imagine! Career Week highlights the resources that can equip youth and young adults in the region with the skills and knowledge needed to compete and excel in 21st century career preparation. Events include a breakfast on Tuesday, May 1 to showcase regional employers that are dedicated to nurturing Pittsburgh’s future workforce.

So what is 21st-century career preparation? Stefani Pashman, CEO of the Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board (TRWIB), says it begins with a solid foundation in core subjects such as English and math. It then builds on this base with exposure to entrepreneurship and global issues, and includes experiential learning opportunities to develop talent in leadership, accountability, critical thinking and collaboration — all important skills in any workplace.

“A clear connection between employers and educators is vital to fulfilling the region’s workforce needs,” Pashman said. “Educators cannot shape the future workforce if they’re unaware of the skills needed in today’s labor market, and employers cannot anticipate a strong and steady pipeline if they aren’t involved in shaping the training opportunities offered in schools.  Only programs that are industry-driven and develop skills based on clear employer demand can effectively reduce the supply-demand disconnect we see today.”

These competencies can be reinforced at school, home and work. By volunteering a few hours a year as a Classroom Speaker or participating in Take Your Child To Work Day, employers can explain to students the proficiencies employers seek, and the careers that correspond with their interests.

Join the conversation as leaders in business, workforce development and education discuss the regional labor market and the pathways to careers available to today’s youth. Click here to find out how you can get involved, and read more coverage of the event in this Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article.