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North Carolina Portrait of a Graduate Aligns Education with the Workforce

November 1, 2023

A Case Study in What Happens When K-12 Education, Business & Industry, and Higher Education Convene

Beginning in March 2022, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (DPI) led a statewide initiative to define the skills and mindsets students need for success after high school. With the input and engagement of 1,200 stakeholders across North Carolina – including postsecondary partners, workforce boards, the state’s Chamber of Commerce, and business and industry – this grassroots-informed Portrait of a Graduate launched in October 2022 as the North Star for the state’s students and their future workforce success.

What is the goal of the Portrait of a Graduate?

  • The North Carolina statewide Portrait identifies the seven durable skills to prepare students for an ever-changing world that is driven by technology, human interaction, and innovation.
  • This Portrait gives school leaders and teachers the framework to design instruction in a way that promotes real-world competencies and job readiness.
  • A complementary goal is to use the Portrait – which features the durable skills valued most by North Carolinians – to anchor a new, more balanced, multi-measured testing and accountability system. 
  • Ultimately, the Portrait drives better alignment among future employers, communities, higher education providers, and families who depend on their schools to prepare students for the post-secondary plan of their choice.

Durable skills are in demand for jobs across the workforce, regardless of educational attainment level, industry sector, or geography.

“Our traditional public system of K-12 education is not preparing most people for success in this economy. Portrait of a Graduate for me was about trying to reorient public K-12 education to being more workforce aligned. We must make sure that we are preparing students not just for the finish line of graduation. Every student is on a career journey.”
– Catherine Truitt | North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction

“Business leaders frequently express their desire to recruit individuals possessing essential attributes like teamwork, effective communication, adept problem-solving, and creative thinking. While we can impart specialized industry knowledge and requirements, the challenge remains in sourcing the right talent. As a business leader, if this is my primary concern, as it is for many, I’ll gravitate toward regions and localities that prioritize these skills. Such places offer a higher probability of discovering the most qualified workforce for recruitment.”
– Mike Duncan | Battelle for Kids President & CEO

Read More: North Carolina Provides Portrait of a Graduate Classroom-Ready Resources to Educators