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Getting Youth Ready

Getting Youth Ready

All young people need to grow up healthy and strong, learn skills for today’s and tomorrow’s jobs, be connected to the community and be prepared to succeed. Success in school is only part of that equation.

Ready by 21 uses the Readiness Target to frame a vision for what is meant by “getting youth ready.”  Our perspective is that ALL children and youth should be supported in their efforts to be academically and vocationally productive, socially and civically connected, and healthy and safe.

We share the commitment to helping young people be academically and vocationally productive – seeing to it that they graduate from high school, and go on to some form of postsecondary training that equips them to succeed in the workplace. We also know that young people’s readiness is contingent upon them being healthy and safe, both physically and emotionally, as depicted in the outer ring of the target.

Ready by 21 places special emphasis on that middle ring in our Readiness Target – socially and civically connected – and champions the importance of those “soft” skills that research is increasingly showing are linked to both avoiding risky behaviors (keeping kids healthy and safe) and succeeding in school.  While there are many names for this ring and few measures, this ‘connectedness’ is critical to being ready for college, work and life.

No matter what measures you use, we need to do better at helping all young people grow up ready for college, work and life. Raising “ready” children and youth requires a steady stream of supports from families, schools and communities to ensure that young people are not only problem-free, but also fully prepared and fully engaged.

Skills and Assets Needed for Readiness


Business leaders say getting young people ready for work is about more than academics.

Sara Toland
Senior Manager for Workforce Readiness
Corporate Voices for Working Famili

There is wide consensus on the skills young people need to function well in the 21st century. In a 2007 survey by Corporate Voices for Working Families, approximately 400 employers rated skills such as teamwork, social responsibility and professionalism as high as oral communication and reading comprehension. Seven in 10 thought these skills were important for the entry-level jobs that are available to high school graduates.

The Search Institute, with its developmental assets survey, has demonstrated a powerful, direct relationship between the number of assets in young people’s lives and their involvement in pro-social or antisocial behaviors, as well as their attitudes and performance in school.

The 40 developmental assets include 20 external assets that specify the types of supports, opportunities, expectations and activities that young people need, along with 20 internal assets across four broad areas – commitment to learning, positive values, social competencies and positive identity.

So readiness must encompass all of these facets – developmental skills or assets, school completion and success, and risk prevention. To learn more about youth readiness, please read Ready by 21 co-founder Karen Pittman’s article, College and Career Readiness.