Exploring the Employability Skills and Academic Success of the National FFA Membership
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Employability skills such as communication, leadership, and critical thinking are in high demand from employers and colleges alike (Crawford, Lang, Fink, Dalton, & Fielitz, 2011; Easterly, Warner, Lamm, & Telg, 2017). In a competitive employment environment, applicants must strive to achieve academic success and proficiency in their field of interest. They also need to possess a command over employability skills that are broadly applicable to all aspects of business (Boahin & Hofman, 2013). A descriptive census of 2018-2019 high school senior members of the National FFA Organization was conducted to provide an updated and focused look into the National FFA student membership. Its goal was to assess the level of employability skills and academic success retained through high school and participation, within the organization, that takes into account the evolution of employability skills desired by the 21st Century job market. Exploring, defining, and understanding the current National FFA student membership’s achievements and interests in career pathways is important in ensuring the optimal educational experience for today’s youth. The study took place over nine weeks in the fall of 2018 with 2,087 respondents completing the online survey. Informed consent and parental consent were collected completely online. Respondents self-reported their Youth Leadership Life Skills, Critical Thinking Dispositions, Communication Competence, High School GPAs, Standardized Test Scores, FFA Involvement/Enrollment, and their interests in AFNR Career Pathways. Results of the study indicated that respondents self-perceived high employability skill levels and above average academic success compared to National Average Standardized Test Scores. These results could be translated into College and Career Readiness of the study respondents. Significant relationships were found between employability skill levels, academic success, and respondent’s level of FFA Involvement. Recommendations for future research include replicating this study within the next 10 years and using a standardized scale to collect self-reported high school GPAs. It would also be beneficial to review USDE high school transcript studies to uncover why “class scheduling problems” were reported as the most common reason for gaps in FFA enrollment.