Achieve Your Skill Goals

              The skill standards movement has emerged from a conviction that technology and market changes have caused significant modifications in the types of skills and behaviors needed by workers on-the-job. This conviction has motivated a broad education reform movement that involves changes in curriculum and pedagogy and seeks to tie education more closely to the emerging needs of the workplace. Industry-based skill standards are believed to be a crucial component of that movement. advocates not only argue that skill standards will strengthen the educational system but that they will also become a critical part of reform efforts in th6 workplace. Working together educators and employers will get a chance to reexamine not only their relationships with each other but activities within their own institutions. As a result of the growing conviction that skill standards can make a significant contribution to improving both education and workthe fundamental goal of this report is to contribute to the development of a skill standards system. 

           It does that in several ways. first it provides some basic information about the skill standards movement and the pilot projects that will be helpful to groups trying to introduce or improve standards systems. second it seeks to raise some basic questions about the purpose of such a system. We argue that there are short-term goals which focus on improving the flow of information among schools students and employers. There are also long-term goals that place skill standards within the context of broad efforts to reform schools and workplaces. While both sets of goals are important the nature and governance of skill standards systems designed to meet the long-term goals may differ sharply from systems focused on the short-term goals. our report is designed both to clarify the tradeoffs involved with achieving those goals and to evaluate the extent to which the current efforts to build skill standards systems address either the long- or the short-term goals.                      Our conclusions are presented in the form of a series of suggestions for strengthening the pilot projects and broadening the system of skill standards.advocates hope that skill standards systems can help achieve a variety of goals. Any assessment of the effectiveness of these systems as well as judgments about the level or resources that should be devoted to these systems will depend on the ultimate objectives of the movement. At this point there is no strong consensus about the central goals and indeed different stakeholders may have conflicting goals. Simplifying greatly there are two overall goalsone short-term and one long-term. the short-term goal is to improve the information available to students prospective job applicants and employers. A set of skill standards for a relevant occupation will let employers know more about what job applicants can do and tell students what types of skills they need to acquire to be eligible for particular jobs or occupations. 

              Many employers involved with the skill standards projects appear to be interested primarily in this type of improved information. According to the long-term goal the skill standards movement is part of a much broader strategy to reform both work and education. The objectives of this strategy are to develop and deepen the partnership between schools and employers; to increase learning that takes place on the job; to help change education so that it will be more in tune with current needs of the workplace; and ultimately to help move workplaces towards highperformance work systems. 

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