What are Soft Skills & How to Get Them: Arvind Gaba, September 11,2015.
By Marwa Kotb.
There are numerous reports and articles that discussed what employability skills are and why does it matter to change curricula to leverage students’ employability skills, the question shouldn’t be any more what? or why? But it should be how?
I believe the majority of publically funded institutes didn’t address nor inculcate these skills successfully in their curricula. The majority still offer students the opportunities to develop them through co-curricular and extra-curricular activities that include experiments, field trips, participation in clubs and societies etc., which I think of not sufficient.
Delving into the reasons that hindered the process, I believe that there are three significant challenges. First, the continuous assumptions that students can all be treated in the same way, and have equal confidence and qualifications to develop these skills on their own. Second, employability skills are best developed in work contexts, not all educational institutes can offer their students placements with employers. Last, educators aren’t equipped with the toolkits, resources and training that enable them to teach or assess employability skills or attributes effectively and there is a big question mark for most educators including myself about assessing personal employability skills (Pegg, Waldock, Hendy-Isaac& Lawton, 2012).
If publically funded institutes desire to support their students’ to enhance the skills required for successful work transitions. There are few dramatic steps that should be done. First, they should start to formally identify employability skills, and integrate them in all their courses curricula, that would involve a mapping process to ensure that these attributes are given the appropriate focus within each course content (precision Consultancy, 2007). A good idea used by Curtin University was to require their faculty to record which graduate attributes developed within each course using detailed analysis reports (precision Consultancy, 2007). Second, educational institutes should equip their staff with supporting resources that help them deliver and assess these skills. For example, Griffith University developed a toolkit that addressed topics such as teamwork, problem solving, written communication, oral communication, etc. to assist its staff to integrate these skills in their teaching practices (precision Consultancy, 2007). Third, it time to strengthen educational institutes and business partnerships (Connelly & Blair, 2013), and rethink of a new method to make the process easier and more efficient. Educational institutes must engage employers more deeply in the process. Last, some educators aren’t able to influence students’ careers as their experience is quite academic and they never actually participated in the real world of the job (Connelly & Blair, 2013) there are a good recommendation to solve this dilemma, educational institutes can hire mentors to aid educators in complex technical areas and to train their staff in workplaces (precision Consultancy, 2007).
At the end of this post I would like to point out that whether adults or youth we all need to continually relearn our employability skills to cope with the new economic forces. Part of lifelong learning process should be developing our employability skills. As an educator, I realized that an important part of my job is developing these skills for my adult students and remind them of the popular quote “with hard skills, you can manage your boss, and with soft skills, you can lead your boss” .
- Connelly, G. & Blair, G. (2013). It’s Their Future: A Pan-Canadian Study of Career Education. The Learning Partnership: Public Education Canada’s Future. Retrieved from http://www.thelearningpartnership.ca/files/download/333d0409f3d6d42
- Pegg, A., Waldock, J., Hendy-Isaac, S.& Lawton, R. (2012). Pedagogy for employability. The Higher Education Academy. Retrieved from https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/system/files/pedagogy_for_employability_update_2012.pdf
- Precision Consultancy (2007, August). Graduate Employability Skills Prepared for the Business, Industry and Higher Education Collaboration Council. Retrieved from http://aces.shu.ac.uk/employability/resources/GraduateEmployabilitySkillsFINALREPORT1.pdf