- Schools are adding soft skills, such as communication, to the list of the requirements students must master before graduating. But experts believe to effectively teach these competencies, the educational community needs to reach out to local businesses and workplaces as partners, according to The Hechinger Report.
- Even college graduates can lack these skills, with just 42% of employers noting that students in higher education were competent in their professionalism and work ethic, according to a National Association of Colleges and Empployers survey, cited in the story.
- Some high school students are now enrolling in programs that help them prepare better for internships and even jobs. They learn skills they will need at work, including how to speak with peers and their future employers.
Testing has played a big role in how curriculum has been designed over the past decade. Schools, understandably, need to make sure students perform well on assessments, which tend to emphasize and measure academic skills. Soft skills, however, such as the ability to communicate effectively, collaborate with peers and show empathy, are much harder to measure in multiple choice exams. Yet these skills can be as crucial to a student's future success upon graduation and when they launch their careers.
Increasingly, administrators and curriculum designers don’t have to choose between soft skills and academics. Some schools are adopting project-based learning programs, for example, which support peer-learning, collaboration and even self-regulation. Others are weaving more social and emotional learning into core courses, teaching soft skills with academics.
Schools have a mandate to educate students, to ensure they can become well-rounded, informed and literate. They are also finding that they have a responsibility to help students learn how to work in a team and handle themselves in a professional setting. Academics are crucial, but so are skills that help them navigate their careers with confidence.