Math, science, history, language are all essential classes in high school, but it’s just as important that teens learn basic workplace skills to help them land and keep a job. Learn4Life, a network of public high schools that offers personalized learning and one-on-one instruction, does just that. While earning their diplomas, all Learn4Life students complete a 10-week professional skills course that has them exploring career goals and learning basic computing, resume preparation and interview etiquette.

June 6-10 is Business Etiquette Week which raises awareness about the need for positive behaviors in a business setting. “You would think it is obvious to arrive on time or not wear flip flops to a job interview, but some need to learn that etiquette,” said Joseph Scibana, director of career and experiential learning programs. “We make sure students are prepared for an interview and many of our schools maintain clothing closets with appropriate attire they can borrow.”

Learn4Life saw such a need for job and life skills training in their 80+ schools that they created a curriculum to help students get and keep jobs they pursue. “Many of our students lacked organizational skills, struggled with grammar, had no idea how to fill out a job application, handle a job interview or understand the basics of appropriate work behavior,” Scibana added. “We have several more elective courses so teens can acquire the skills to succeed in whatever job they want to pursue. With employers actively seeking qualified applicants this summer, our students have a definite advantage.”

He said the various skills classes teach students about workplace communication, career readiness, employability skills, leadership and financial literacy, exploring topics such as:


  • Why attire and professional appearance matters
  • What is ethical communication?
  • Communications in the workplace
  • Are my academic skills relevant to the workplace?
  • How can a work environment promote or hinder success?
  • What professional skills are relevant across industries?
  • What to know about income, debt, wealth accumulation, financial institutions and investment

For example, a 10-credit Small Business Management course provides an in-depth introduction to business communication and business management. Students identify and develop their career interests as well as skills in planning, starting, marketing and running their own businesses.

Students then can move on to a specific CTE career pathway – with options like computer programming, food service, healthcare, construction, veterinary medicine, robotics, construction and cyber-security. They get hands-on skills training and earn industry-recognized certifications so they can secure internships, apprenticeships or jobs.

One student, Roxeanna, was shy and had limited social skills which held her back at her previous school. At Learn4Life, she was encouraged by her teachers and counselor to take the professional skills classes and pursue a CTE pathway in early child development. They helped her land a job as a teacher assistant, and with Learn4Life’s flexible schedule, she can work full time and come to school in the early evening. She is taking dual-enrollment classes at a local community college, which she knows will save her money after graduation when she enrolls in college. Read Roxeanna’s story here.

Find out more about Learn4Life and its job skills training.

Written By:
Ann Abajian
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