Career Competency Integration
The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) defines career readiness as the attainment and demonstration of requisite competencies that broadly prepare college graduates for a successful transition into the workplace. The Career Success Story model incorporates these competencies as a foundation to create programming for students, employers, and faculty/staff.
In the past couple of years, the University Career Center has implemented an innovative career competency portal (Competency Compass) that enables students to map academic and co-curricular experiences to key career competencies, that are derived from national norms. The portal enables students to identify activities that will develop their competencies and helps them to articulate and showcase those competencies when they go on the job market. Faculty already play a critical role in development students’ competencies, but their impact on students’ learning and potential for growth can be enhanced if the curriculum is reimagined to make these key competencies simultaneously visible and transferable:
- Visible: The curriculum makes tangible the development of the career competencies that students achieve as they develop mastery in the discipline’s ways of knowing, its critical skills, and its content knowledge
- Transfer: The curriculum equips students to adapt and apply these competencies in professional, personal, and community contexts
The Career Competency Integration Project
This project began in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences by engaging faculty in a process of rethinking the activities and assignments in one of their courses to enhance the visibility and transfer of career competencies; the long-term goal is to work towards a “competency-integrated” major. In such a major, students would build competencies in an intentional and scaffolded fashion as they progress through the curriculum, and they would also be encouraged to take advantage of co-curricular opportunities and to build their capacity to showcase these competencies by taking full advantage of UCC resources. We are proud to be a part of the new General Education plan for academics!
The need for this effort is clear. Elevating competencies puts value on the very qualities and capabilities that are developed by academics while simultaneously taking advantage of the fact that employers are focusing less on a students’ major and more on the skills and competencies. Reimagining the major to take advantage of this duality is particularly important for equity. Low income and first-generation students are less likely to have the social capital that helps them to translate their college education into job-ready talking points and less likely to have access to the connections and resources to get a foot in the door and learn from experience. Graduating, often times with debt, UNC Charlotte students need to be able to move seamlessly from college to career if we want them to become active and thriving members of the active engaged citizenry we are educating.