Skills for the Future: JFF CEO Maria Flynn Discusses How Work-Based Learning, Apprenticeships Can Help Prepare K12 Students for Future Careers

In the 21st century, the world of work is constantly changing. This podcast series, Reimagining Career Pathways, will explore the needs of the future workforce, rethinking traditional education pathways to connect students today with the in-demand jobs and skills of the future.

Today, workforce preparation is starting to become more popular in K–12 agendas. So, how can professional learning be best implemented during these years? According to Maria Flynn, President and CEO of JFF, also known as Jobs for the Future, it’s important to focus on skill or work-based education when incorporating employability into academic curricula.

“I would stress not so much what are the exact skills, but more how are those skills taught and how are they assessed,” says Maria. “So skills around decision making and teamwork and communication and prioritization—those are timeless skills that are still going to be just as relevant 10, 20, 30 years from now.”

As technology expands and new types of careers become available, post-secondary educators are trying to prep students with new, high-demand skills. Maria says that one of the biggest challenges is a discrepancy between how higher ed institutions think their students are being prepared, and how jobs view students’ preparedness.

According to Maria, “A Gallup poll from a couple years ago showed a big disconnect where 96 percent of colleges felt that their students were leaving prepared for work, but only 11 percent of employers felt that workers were showing up prepared for the job.”

Listen in to our interview with Maria Flynn and EdTech Times Guest Host Kevin Fudge to learn more about what it takes to bridge the gap between K12, higher ed, and the workforce.

This podcast episode is sponsored by American Student Assistance®. ASA® is a national nonprofit committed to helping kids know themselves, know their options, and make informed choices to achieve their education and career goals. To learn more about ASA, visit

Hannah Nyren

Hannah Nyren

Hannah Nyren is the General Manager of EdTech Times. A Texan by birth but a Bostonian at heart, Hannah is an educational writer, AmeriCorps alum, and one-time StartupWeekend EDU (SWEDU) winning team member. She started her career at a Pearson-incubated edtech startup, but has since covered travel, food & culture, and even stonemasonry in addition to education.