A child born in 1914 had a 1% probability of living to 100 years old. A child born today has a 50% chance of living to be 100. According to the 100 Year Life by Lynda Gratton and Andrew J. Scott, we are not prepared for these changes in life expectancy. What does that mean for us as individuals, as employers and as a society?
At a minimum, we need to realize that we are no longer preparing students for 30-year careers. Instead, many of the students we are helping today could work for 60 years.
Changes in longevity and demographics, along with changes in technology and cultural values, are creating new needs for young people. No longer can we match students with a job title, and expect them to pursue this path for the rest of their career. We need to prepare students for adaptability. We need to help them see the bigger picture. And we need to help them take charge of their future, now.
I’m thrilled to say that at SparkPath, we get to partner with educators who get it: they are committed to changing the way we prepare students for their careers and education. Here’s what we’ve accomplished together so far:
- Over 30,000 students have experienced the Challenge mindset through the digital Challenge Cards.
- There are over +25,000 physical Challenge Cards in use around the world.
- More than 100 schools, colleges, universities, employment centres or non-profits are subscribed to the digital Challenge Cards.
- Take a look at our Year in Pictures to see how educators made the Challenge mindset come to life!
Thank you to all the educators who persevered in 2021 to help our students prepare for a meaningful future. I’d like to highlight several partners who leading the charge and getting exceptional results for their students:
- Simon Fraser University held their very own ‘Shaping Careers, Changing the World’ workshop for career professionals. We then partnered to present their great results at Cannexus.
- The University of Buffalo embarked with us on a three-year deal, and contributed to making SparkPath more accessible. With their support, we initiated a project to remediate the digital cards and are now fully compliant with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 AA.
- The Dufferin-Peel Catholic School Board empowered over 7,000 students last academic year, thanks to a high-powered team of 'EGELTs': Elementary Guidance Experiential Learning Teachers.
- The province of New-Brunswick partnered with us to create a customized version of the Challenge Cards, connected with their regional labour market information. Early results from our province wide implementation are promising.
- The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board has launched a board wide initiative to foster authentic learning with students. To help students find their voice and drive their learning, teachers are integrating the Challenge mindset and Challenge Cards in their curriculum to help students choose interest areas and potential paths.
Thank you to all our new and existing partners who are continuing to innovate in the space of careers and education. Internally at SparkPath, here were some of our accomplishments in 2021:
- We hired Camille Arseneault, who brought her execution, organization and discipline skills. We’re thankful for everything she does to make our mission a reality.
- JP Michel was featured in Forbes, speaking about the future of work and careers.
- We wrote a book chapter for an upcoming Routledge volume, “Mapping the Future of Undergraduate Career Education: Equitable Career Learning, Development and Preparation for a New World of Work” [Scheduled for release in June 2022]. The chapter speaks about the Challenge mindset and its applications in higher education career exploration.
- We made changes to the digital Challenge Cards, including building a Classlink integration and getting a certification for digital accessibility compliance.
- We built a new website that brings our message to life, including an eBook and a Career Specialist Quiz.
- We wrote the first draft for the Challenge mindset book. To join the waiting list for the book, please click here.
SparkPath hosted six successful webinars in 2021 where we had the opportunity to engage with our existing audience, welcome new members, and build strong connections with many educators. Below are the webinars with links to their recordings:
- Experience the Challenge Mindset (Feb 4 2021)
- Is it your job to fix the system? (Apr 15 2021)
- The power of DEI in career exploration (Jun 8 2021)
- How to introduce the Challenge mindset (Jul 27 2021)
- Partners-only webinar: using the Challenge Cards (Oct 5 2021)
- Create your own Challenge Card (Nov 30 2021)
We also expanded the CM community when we presented at the following events:
- What They Don’t Tell You About Life After High School @ Canadian College and University Fairs (CCUF)
- Challenge Mindset @ Idaho College and Career Readiness Summit
- Challenge Mindset @ Ontario College Career Educators (OCCE)
- Challenge Mindset @ Chinook School Division
- Challenge Mindset @ Science North
In 2022, we are excited to build on our roadmap for digitizing the Challenge Profile. We’ve also discovered another way to help students: enabling them to explore companies that are working on their challenges. We’ll be diving into this in the Winter and will provide an update to our community in the Spring.
Why an Annual Letter?
Most public companies issue an annual letter to shareholders. At their best, these letters represent an opportunity for the people entrusted to run the company to communicate with the people who own the company, the shareholders.
Stewards of companies have a legal duty to do what is in the best interest of shareholders. I feel a similar obligation to you. You trust me with something incredibly important: helping your students create meaningful careers and lives.
I hope this letter is useful in understanding SparkPath's progress to date, as well as our path forward.Thank you to Farnam Street and Khan Academy for the inspiration to write this post.