Preparing students for future career choices is the core of a focus on human capital in the classroom. As defined by the Kansas City Fed’s Core Concept Cards, human capital is:
- A person’s health, education, experience, training, skills and values.
The Federal Reserve sees post-secondary education and training as critical to sustaining a healthy and growing economy, and with part of our mandate to promote full employment, it’s an important topic for us and one that can be built in the classroom, no matter the grade level.
Michele Wulff, economic education coordinator for the Kansas City Fed, sees human capital as a great springboard to a variety of personal finance and economic concepts.
“You can start at the elementary level, teaching the importance of hard work and decision-making skills,” Michele says. “Using children’s literature with a lesson plan that helps them see the human capital elements is a great start.”
As students move to the middle grades, teachers can truly define human capital with them and help focus on the idea that students can invest in their own human capital – the effort they put into acquiring different skills and knowledge.
“Give students an assignment to research highly skilled sports players or celebrities and choose one, focusing on how they developed their own human capital,” Michele suggests. “Then have them write an essay to persuade their peers to develop their human capital in similar ways to take advantage of in the future.”
Human capital becomes very real as students reach the secondary level and see adulthood, jobs, training or college on the horizon. Decision-making skills again can come into play as students might look at a variety of career options, the education needed and the potential future payoff to consider what they might choose.
“As students ponder their options, consider starting with a lesson plan to emphasize the importance of human capital, and then have them list what unique human capital they currently possess,” Michele said. “Then they can do research to see what careers might be in demand now and in the future, and if their current skills match up – or if they might need to pursue additional training or education.”
Michele suggests ensuring that students think of entrepreneurship among the mix of their future options. Other online research tools and lesson plans can also give students a better image of their future, she suggests.
More Human Capital Resources
The Federal Reserve has a variety of resources on human capital available to educators; a sampling are linked below. For more, visit www.federalreserveeducation.org
- Isabel’s Car Wash
- Sweet Potato Pie
- Morris Goes to School
- One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference
- My Side of the Mountain
- Entrepreneurship in the Classroom
- Money Circle
- Financing Your Human Capital
- Katrina's Classroom: Teaching Money Skills for Life Lesson 4
- Navigate: Exploring College and Careers
- Invest in What's Next: Life After High School
- Does College Matter?
- College 101 Infographic
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