Career technical education: Career ready practices

Explore the connection between career ready practices and the 4-H Life Skills Model.

Life Skills Model

Helping young people explore careers is natural for those who work in the field of 4-H Youth Development. Whether staff are training camp counselors, delivering career presentations, helping volunteers weave career exploration information into their project lessons, or teaching young people about interview skills and their market animal project budget, they are involved in preparing youth for their future.

Check out the relationship between the 4-H Life Skills Model and the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium’s Career Ready Practices of the Common Career Technical Core. The 12 overarching statements from the Career Ready Practices are:

  1. Act as a responsible and contributing citizen and employee.
  2. Apply appropriate academic and technical skills.
  3. Attend to personal health and financial wellbeing.
  4. Communicate clearly and effectively and with reason.
  5. Consider the environmental, social and economic impacts of decisions.
  6. Demonstrate creativity and innovation.
  7. Employ valid and reliable research strategies.
  8. Utilize critical thinking to make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
  9. Model integrity, ethical leadership and effective management.
  10. Plan education and career paths aligned to personal goals.
  11. Use technology to enhance productivity.
  12. Work productively in teams while using cultural global competence.

Sound familiar? When we talk about the 4-H Life Skills Model, Michigan State University Extension educators teach staff and clientele that of the 35 life skills, they are clustered around the Head, Heart, Hands and Health of 4-H. We teach them about how their 4-H projects are related to the individual life skills. Here is a summary of how the above Career Ready Practices match up with the 4-H Life Skills Model:

HEAD – Managing and Thinking
Career Ready Practices numbers 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10 and 11

HEART – Relating and Caring
Career Ready Practices numbers 4 and 12

HANDS – Giving and Working
Career Ready Practices numbers 1, 2, 9 and 12

HEALTH – Living and Being
Career Ready Practices number 3

Any connections that help young people distinguish between 4-H, their academics and career pursuits will only enhance their success in the future. Think about incorporating the language of Career Ready Practices into discussions and trainings with staff, volunteers and the community; it can only enhance our efforts to make things better! 

Michigan State University Extension and Michigan 4-H Youth Development helps to prepare young people for successful futures. According to the Michigan 4-H Alumni College Access Project 2019 Results, “Michigan 4-H Alumni are more likely than their same age peers to have earned a degree or certificate six years after high school.” For more information or resources on career exploration, workforce preparation, financial education, or youth entrepreneurship, email us at

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