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Career Clusters Close the Gap Between Schools Subjects and Careers

Nov 2, 2007
A wealth of information exists that explains the relationships between school subjects and careers. Across the nation, children, teens, teachers, and counselors use Career Interests Areas or Clusters to explore careers and to make school study plans. There are sixteen (16) Interests Areas or Clusters:

1. Agriculture, Food, & Natural Resources
2. Architecture & Construction
3. Arts, A/V Technology & Communication
4. Business, Management & Administration
5. Education & Training
6. Finance
7. Government & Public Administration
8. Health Science
9. Hospitality & Tourism
10. Human Services
11. Information Technology
12. Law, Public Safety & Security
13. Manufacturing
14. Marketing, Sales & Service
15. Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics
16. Transportation, Distribution & Logistics

States and federal agencies across the nation have created career cluster web sites and resources. We have reviewed three (3) of the best state or federal agency web sites.

Louisiana Integrated Skills Assessment (LISA)

One of the most unique comprehensive career cluster resources is the Louisiana Integrated Skills Assessment (LISA), an Internet program. LISA lets you explore career clusters, careers, abilities, training requirements, and more. Using the Lisa, you can do the following tasks:

Assessment: Explore career options using the Work Importance Locator.
I Enjoy: Find careers based upon the things that you enjoy.
Cluster: Find careers from Career Cluster Groups.
Search: Search for jobs based on knowledge, skills, and abilities.
Best Match: Use your current job to find knowledge, skills, and abilities to identify a new career.
Compare: Compare current job to potential new job.
Profile: Use this feature to create a profile from a selected career.

There are 3 steps in the LISA program. In Step 1, when you choose a career cluster, you will read the description of the cluster. When you select a career cluster in Step 2, you can select a career group. In each career group, you will see a lot of different careers. Finally, in Step 3, you see additional occupational information, such as:

Job descriptions
Educational and training requirements
Crosswalks, for example ONET, DOT, GOE, and other codes
Abilities
Knowledge
Skills
Tasks
Work Values
Labor Market Information

There is detailed information in each job profile:

Description
Crosswalk
Abilities
Knowledge
Skills
Tasks
Work Values
Occupational Characteristics Narrative

The Louisiana Integrated Skills Assessment (LISA) is an excellent tool for students to do career cluster exploration.

NCE Career Clusters and State Career Clusters Initiative Resources

The NCE Career Clusters has adapted information from the State Career Clusters Initiative to create a career education toolkit for teachers and counselors. In your NCE Career Clusters toolkit, you can find a Career Cluster Model, poster, resource booklets, At-a-Glance PDF Slices, and Plans of Study. Each resource is designed to facilitate the exploration of Career Clusters.

Career Cluster Resource Booklet

To prepare for a Career Clusters discussion, teachers and counselors use the State Career Clusters Initiative Career Cluster Resource Booklet. The brochures discuss the differences between career clusters and career pathways. The booklet outlines that career clusters are career groups from the same industry that have the same skills and educational requirements. Career pathways are specific careers that are within the each career cluster. The Resource Booklet discusses the following topics:

Historical background information
Cluster Knowledge and Skills
Pathway Knowledge and Skills
O*NET Crosswalk Report
Validation Studies
Assessment Protocol
Certification Protocol

The booklet is a "must-read" resource that provides in depth information on each career cluster. Each booklet has detailed graphs, charts, and tables.

Career Cluster Model

To provide an overview of Career Clusters, teachers and counselors use the Career Cluster Model. The Career Cluster Model simplifies sixteen (16) Career Clusters model. The center of the NCE Career Clusters model focuses on six (6) major groups. The career clusters are color-coded so that you can easily present six (6) major groups in classroom activities. The six (6) major groups are:

1. Environmental and Agricultural Systems
2. Business, Marketing, and Management
3. Communication and Information Systems
4. Industrial, Manufacturing, Engineering Systems
5. Health Sciences
6. Human Services and Resources

Here is summary of the relationship between the sixteen (16) Career Clusters and the 6 Super Clusters.

1. Environmental and Agricultural Systems
Agriculture, Food, & Natural Resources (1)
2. Business, Marketing, and Management combines:
Business, Management & Administration (4)
Finance (6)
Hospitality & Tourism (9)
Marketing, Sales & Service (14)
3. Communication and Information Systems involve:
Arts, A/V Technology & Communication (3)
Information Technology (11)
4. Industrial, Manufacturing, Engineering Systems
Transportation, Distribution & Logistics (16)
Architecture & Construction (2)
Manufacturing (13)
Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (15)
5. Health Sciences
Health Science (8)
6. Human Services and Resources
Education & Training (5)
Government & Public Administration (7)
Human Services (10)
Law, Public Safety & Security (12)

The sixteen (16) Career Clusters systematically fit within the six (6) major groups.

Career Cluster Brochure

Another excellent career cluster student aid is the Career Cluster Brochure. The brochure is filled with photographs that show people performing the different jobs. With this easy-to-read booklet, students get an overview of the different careers, career clusters, and career pathways. Students read about:

What is a career cluster?
What is a career pathway?
What school subjects are important for a career in the ... career cluster?
What is the educational or training requirement for a career in the ... career cluster?
What are the necessary credentials for a career in the ... career cluster?
What is the employment outlook for a career in the ... career cluster?
What are some sample occupations?

Career Cluster Slices

Besides the Career Cluster Model and the Brochure, a third student Career Cluster aid is the NCE Career Cluster Slices. The NCE Career Cluster Slice identifies specific career opportunities found within each Career Pathways. Each Cluster Slice is illustrated and designed to explore areas, such as:

Cluster Description
Pathway Description
Cluster Knowledge & Skills
Career Field
Preparation for a Career in ...
Examples of Education and Training Postsecondary Programs of Study

Students discover that each pathways leads to post-secondary options including:

Apprenticeships
Certificates
Licenses
Associate's Degree Programs
Bachelor's Degree Programs
Master's Degree Programs
Doctoral Degree Programs
Professional Degree Programs

Career Clusters Plan of Study

At the beginning of the students' middle school years, the students use assessments identify career cluster interest areas. With the Career Clusters model, brochure, Slices, and LISA resources, the students have explored the different careers and post-secondary training options. Students, teachers, counselors, and parents then use the Career Clusters Plan of Study to strategically plan the students' high school course work. The Career Clusters Plan of Study provides examples of English, Math, Science, Social Studies, electives, and extra-curricular activities for the following grade levels:

7th - 8th grade
9th - 10th grade
11th - 12th grade
Examples of advanced coursework for postsecondary credit

The NCE Career Clusters web page is the gateway to the student career cluster resources.

State Career Clusters Initiative, NCE, and Lisa materials are just examples of career cluster resources. Career clusters resources have established a connection between school subjects and careers.

Resources:
Explore Career Clusters, Texas Workforce Commission/Career Development Resources (TWC/CDR), US Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration, and Louisiana Department of Labor

Nebraska Career Education, States' Career Clusters Initiative, 2005, and NCTEF/NASDCTEc (National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium) States' Career Clusters Initiative, & National Association of State Directors of Career and Technical Education Consortium

State Career Clusters Initiative Washington, DC: National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium, 2002
About the Author
Dr Mary Askew specializes in career tests, websites, and books for children, teens, adults, teachers, and counselors. Find eye appealing, easy to use, yet comprehensive career resources. Contact Dr. Askew at learning4life@qwest.net or visit http://www.hollandcodes.com.
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