Career Readiness in Students — Or Lack Thereof

Today’s job market is incredibly competitive. Having some key software proficiencies and experience on a resume may be the catalyst for a student to get a foot in the door, but soft skills and professionalism will play a key role in students’ continued success.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers outlines eight core competencies (bit.ly/35mvpVR) for career readiness (bit.ly/38mdrEQ):

  1. Critical Thinking/Problem Solving
  2. Oral/Written Communication
  3. Teamwork/Collaboration
  4. Digital Technology
  5. Leadership
  6. Professionalism/Work Ethic
  7. Career Management
  8. Global/Intercultural Fluency

These encompass both hard and soft skills and highlight the need for learners to be well-rounded as they enter the workforce. This is an area of concern among employers of new technicians.

An article published by CareerBuilder noted that 50% of employers believe that new workers lack interpersonal and people skills.

While there are several ways to foster critical thinking, problem solving, and technical skills, instructors should also focus on developing interpersonal skills through collaboration and teamwork.

The Solution: Promoting Hard and Soft Skill Development

I recently did an Empowered Educators webinar on “3 Ways To Get Students Career-Ready In Any Course.” These included fostering software proficiencies, promoting project management skills, and exposing students to industry insights and opportunities. While these tips can improve several of the core competency areas highlighted above, instructors can go even further to help students in these areas by:

Helping Progress Interpersonal and Leadership Skills

Every class has individuals that we would consider “natural born leaders” – the apprentices who are not afraid of getting up in front of the class, answering questions, or volunteering to be the team leader on the class project. While these are admirable traits that we should promote in those pupils, it’s the ones lacking these skills – the quiet and disengaged learners – that can benefit the most by taking on leadership roles and working with teams in the class.

Observe Hiring Trends and Incorporate Insights into Instruction

Observing hiring trends and industry feedback is a critical step toward nurturing success for apprentices. Considering many employers view new workers as lacking the crucial skills for success in the workplace, incorporating hiring trends and industry insights into your instruction ensures apprentices have the necessary skills to hit the ground running.

Matthew Ponder teaches Geography at Eastfield College in Mesquite, Texas.

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