Preparing Students for the Knowledge Economy: What School Counselors Need to Know. (Special Issue: Career Development and the Changing Workplace).

Prior to advising the upcoming waves of high school students, there are three things that every school counselor should know. First, high school graduates who do not receive at least some postsecondary education and training will face increasingly limited economic opportunities. Second, the only thing more costly than going to college is not going to college at all. And third, the demand for people with education and training beyond high school will increase, both because of increasing skill requirements on the job and massive retirements of the baby-boom generation (Aspen Institute, 2002; Employment Policy Foundation, 2001). Steering students back to the academic basics will not be enough to get ahead in the knowledge economy. To be sure, everyone will need a solid academic foundation. But at some point, students will need to put an occupational point on their academic pencil. They also will need a set of soft skills such as problem solving and interpersonal communication that were formerly required only of senior managers and professionals (Cappelli et al., 1997; Marshall & Tucker, 1992; U.S. Department of Labor, 1992). Economic and technological change has upped the ante on academic skills, occupational preparation, and soft skills as well as positive “cognitive styles” that allow workers to cope with this accelerating pace of change (Katz & Murphy, 1992; Krueger, 1993; Murnane & Levy, 1996; Seligman, 1998).

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