This week in Rapid City, South Dakota, I helped facilitate an excellent working session with the local pathways task force and a group of over 60 local employers. These employers represented the breadth of the local economy. We started off the meeting by conducting an online survey asking participants to rank the relative importance of 11 applied workplace skills like professional/work ethic, oral communications, technology, and teamwork/collaboration. The definitions were derived from an excellent conference Board report that came out a number of years ago. Since it was an online survey, we were able to view the results instantly, which was really fun.
After some reflection by a panel of employers with the full group, we organized the participants into six industry sector groups. The results of the survey fostered excellent conversation between business and school district facilitators. It helped generate fresh insights and understanding about how these applied employability skills play out in different workplace scenarios.
So, what’s next? These survey results provide an excellent foundation for understanding the role of applied workplace skills and building real dialogue between employers and education partners. The real goal, however, is to develop stronger programming in the schools and more real-world work-based learning experiences so that students see and understand what employability skills look and feel like. In the end, each student should understand these skills are not just fluff; they are core and critical to workplace and life success.
If you want to see a PDF of the survey tool, provide your information below and we’ll email you a copy.
Hans Meeder is President of NC3T, the National Center for College and Career Transitions (www.nc3t.com). NC3T provides planning, coaching, technical assistance and tools to help community-based leadership teams plan and implement their college-career pathway systems and strengthen employer connections with education.
 (Source: Jill Casner-Lotto, Jill (et al), 2006, “Are They Really Ready To Work? Employers’ Perspectives on the Basic Knowledge and Applied Skills of New Entrants to the 21st Century U.S. Workforce,” Conference Board, New York, NY)