All Articles Education Career-Technical Education A blueprint that makes for a better employee -- a call to action

A blueprint that makes for a better employee — a call to action

5 min read

Career-Technical Education

SmartBrief Education’s Path to Workforce content series brings you original content and events on the topic. Path to Workforce is our vision of college and career readiness, encompassing K-12, adult learners, career changers, non-traditional students and those who forgo a traditional four-year college experience.

In today’s world, CEO’s stress that their corporations need highly qualified and skilled workers to continue improving their bottom line. They have found that employees just entering the work force have a “degree of separation” where they not only have to learn the job, but they must also change the way that they learned in school and college. This happens because schools at all levels have not invested enough time, energy and resources into making these critical elements a priority. As a result, employees and corporations alike will never reach their fullest potential and shall continue to see the same outcomes unless there is a change. That change must begin with a blueprint that is exclusively created in mind to make employees ready for the 21st century workplace.

Within that blueprint, most educators (or job-site supervisors) would agree with me that we must utilize and maximize STEM concepts while incorporating them into our schools and businesses. Even in doing so, it is easily noticed that many employees are still hesitant to change and regardless of where one is in a profession, as they still encounter difficulties in critical thinking, problem-solving skills, real-world applications, harnessing technology, interdisciplinary learning and teamwork.

Unfortunately, these problems are the same concerns heard throughout the United States much less the entire world. Although there are many discussions about how to resolve these problems, the initiative to close these gaps fails to launch and sustain time and time again.

So the question now shifts back to us as educators and businesses. What can we do differently to generate a better result? One that will give us hope and promise but yet is simple and doable. Yes, professional development, curricula and lesson plans do assist in the process, but in order to generate an effect unlike the ones in the past, there must be a laser focused blueprint that entails much more than just talk.

What is it that you ask? It is a vision and core belief that is interchangeable in the STEM profession and one that gives promise and consistency. If followed, it will become a game changer for those who are faithful in practicing it.

Having worked at a STEM school called Aviation Academy, I can attest that we have used the same approach time and time again and have generated a new wave of higher level students. These students value and consistently enforce these beliefs which are demonstrated inside the classroom and on the job-site.

Regardless of what profession the students decide to pursue, the five core beliefs listed below are what every student, and employee should be doing in the 21st century workplace.

Be safe. Every location wants its employees safe when they work. Being safety-minded keeps the work productivity high.

Be attentive to details. Being attentive to details guarantees that employers can rely on their employees to do the toughest of tasks in the most cumbersome situations.                                                             

Be prepared and organized. Great preparation and organization minimize mistakes, ensuring that the quality of the work remains top notch.

Be committed. Whether someone uses a team or individual approach, one must focus on his or her work at all times. Substandard work means that production remains underutilized.

Be clean. All work locations remain clean and clutter free at all times. This ensures the longevity of the tools, as well as maintaining a standard of excellence.

These five beliefs are part of the blueprint but not the entire entity. The beliefs are accompanied with three areas of focus that give students and employees alike the ability to manage the present but more importantly prepare for the future.

When this blueprint is implemented, a new student will have been created. This student will have a rich and meaningful experience where he/she will gain a tremendous advantage. Furthermore, whomever he or she surrounds them with shall also undergo the transformation as well. From here, it then begins a paradigm shift in the approach, the thought process and the delivery of the finished product which results in a change. A change that will ensure that they are not only college, career and citizen ready but also a change that has truly prepared them for a journey as a 21st century employee bound to be successful in any endeavor that they choose to embark on in the new world.

My challenge to you is to take this blueprint that you have just read and implement it so that we all can make way for a better employee. By taking this call to action, we have now just begun to ensure the success of our next generation of highly skilled and versatile employees. These employees will be prepared for any endeavor that comes across their pathway no matter when it comes.

Aaron Smith is the program director at Aviation Academy, located in Newport News, Va. He is the author of Awakening Your STEM School and has been recognized for his work in Dropout Prevention and STEM.  More information on him can be found at

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