Employability skills: Success for the workplace and beyond

Soft Skills. Growth Mindset. Employability Skills. There are several different names for them, but regardless of what they are called, these skills are frequently associated with success: success in the classroom; success in the workplace; success in life. As practitioners, these are the skills that we want students, adult learners, caregivers, and even colleagues to develop.

To support educators and employers alike, the U.S. Department of Education compiled the Employability Skills Framework to identify qualities and skills that are considered essential. The framework includes skills related to critical thinking, information use, communication, resource management, and interpersonal relationships. It’s important to note that while the chosen term is employability skills, these skills are wide-ranging in their application and transferable to many situations beyond employment. They are skills that are critical in modern life.

NCFL Education Solutions

If we want to prepare our students, adult participants, and clients for the modern world, we need to cultivate these essential skills. Whether we work with preschoolers, school-age students, adult learners, or parents, these abilities will benefit our students. Here are a few ideas and strategies for developing skills from the Employability Skills Framework in classrooms and programs:

Employability skill: Thinks creatively. Adapts and shows flexibility.
Give children and parents opportunities to participate in open-ended activities. In Parent and Child Together (PACT) Time®, give families a variety of science tools and materials and let them come up with their own experiment. Maker activities are also a great way to foster these skills. Encourage students to use materials in different ways to promote flexibility. Foster creative thinking by providing opportunities rather than providing activities.

Employability skill: Plans and organizes.
Rather than always having practitioners plan Parent Time and PACT Time, allow participants to take turns at planning and organizing sessions with support. Older students and adults can identify topics of interest to them, find related videos to share, or even arrange for speakers. Our classrooms and programs provide natural opportunities for developing skills related to planning and organizing.

Employability skill: Takes initiative. Solves problems.
Family Service Learning provides an opportunity for older children, parents, and other adult caregivers to identify issues in their communities and to take action toward solving them. Our natural inclination as facilitators is to provide guidance and make suggestions, but if our goal is for participants to take initiative, then we might have to “sit on our hands” while we allow children and parents to find their way in their service learning projects.

Employability skill: Communicates verbally.
Give students plenty of opportunities for purposeful, structured talk. Learners of all ages should have chances to listen and then respond with a partner or a larger group. Talk helps us to make meaning and to remember information. It is both a method for learning and a desired outcome. Learners must have chances to hone their verbal communication skills.

These employability skills are critical beyond the workplace. An adult needs to plan a menu before going to the grocery. A parent needs to take initiative when enrolling their child at school. A patient needs to communicate verbally with their doctor. These skills lead to success in life.

Think about ways that you promote employability skills in your classroom or program. Share a successful strategy in the comments below. Help other practitioners to think about how to seamlessly incorporate key employability skills that lead to success in the workplace and beyond.