3 Ways to Prepare High School Students for Jobs

Posted by Des Sinkevich on October 5, 2023

The first step on any career path is often decided upon in high school, as students explore different interests and hobbies. But whether they’re confident in their future career goals or still undecided, these students have one thing in common: they often feel unprepared for work after graduation. One survey found that, while 81% of high school students felt their education was preparing them for college, only 52% felt that they were being prepared for the workforce.

As many students choose to get a job right out of high school due to the rising costs of higher education, they’re left to navigate the ups and downs of a tumultuous economy on their own, making it more likely that they will pursue whatever jobs are available versus making decisions that lead to a steady, long-term career. By offering career counseling, job-readiness courses, and career-focused classes long before graduation day, you can prepare your learners for success.

boy taking notes in classroom.

How to get high schoolers job-ready

Today, teaching standard subjects alone isn’t enough to prepare high schoolers for the workforce. They need to learn a variety of practical skills to help them make the most of life after graduation.

1. Teach high school students soft skills

Job readiness isn’t just having specific skills to perform specific job duties. It also means having a set of skills that are transferable to any career in any industry. Often called soft skills, these include

  • Interpersonal communication
  • Time management
  • Adaptability 
  • Teamwork 
  • Creativity 
  • Problem solving
  • Leadership skills

While it can depend on the job, many employers prioritize soft skills when reviewing job applicants’ resumes. By teaching soft skills as part of your high school curriculum, you can prepare your students to qualify for jobs and better understand how to build a successful career.


Read more: How to Prepare High Schoolers for a Hybrid Workforce


2. Teach practical job-preparedness skills in high school

While many English classes will briefly include how to write a resume and cover letter as part of the standard curriculum, it’s often a skill that is overlooked or forgotten by the end of the school year. Focusing more time on job-readiness in the classroom could better prepare students for the workforce once they graduate.

Besides resume writing, teaching interview skills, interview etiquette, and even how to decide which jobs to apply for can be beneficial to students who don’t plan on going to college after graduation.

Encourage students to focus on job-specific skills

For the most part, high schools focus on preparing students for college. Classes are geared toward those students who are more academically inclined and many guidance sessions with counselors focus on the steps students need to take to get into college. However, not every student wants to go to college. These students are often left behind in conversations about the future.

Instead of encouraging every student to matriculate to a community college or university after high school, consider what your school can do to prepare students for some of the most in-demand jobs that don’t require a degree. This could mean expanding elective course offerings to include career-specific classes. For example, for students who may want to work in a trade post-graduation, offering more advanced shop and trades electives could help them better prepare for those jobs.

Read more: How Online Classes Can Help Learners Succeed in High School

3. Prepare high school students to find a career path

Besides teaching practical skills that are applicable to any job or path after high school, preparing students to narrow down their career path choices can help them build rewarding lives. Whether you offer one-on-one career counseling or simply make information available to your learners, you can help them learn more about what choices can help them build the future they want.

Other methods of helping learners narrow down career options include personality tests and setting up internship or job shadowing opportunities.


Read more: Strategies to Help Learners Earn a High School Diploma

Create education opportunities for learners

While many high school students are aware that college is a viable choice after they finish their diploma, information about trade schools and career-focused programs may not be as readily available. In order to prepare your learners for the workforce, they need to know all the options that are available to them for training and education post-diploma.


Encourage learners who have interest in trades or skilled jobs to explore technical schools and training that can help them begin a career they’re passionate about. For those who are interested in college, encourage them to explore career paths that are available for each major before they settle on a school to attend.


It can also be helpful to provide career-focused courses that can help students learn about potential jobs while earning credits toward graduation. Offering career pathway courses to high schoolers can not only help them decide what they do want to do after high school, it can give them a head start on reaching their goals!


Read more: How Online School Can Benefit Your Learners


Partner with an accredited, online high school to offer career pathways to students

With an accredited, online high school program like that offered by Penn Foster, you can allow your students to choose self-paced elective courses that can prepare them for a future career. Penn Foster offers electives that can help students learn more about their chosen career while earning credits that can give them a head start on a diploma or degree program with the school. To learn more about how you can work with Penn Foster to provide career-focused coursework to your high schoolers, reach out to our training experts today!