There is a greater demand for higher education due to the speed of globalization, new technology and changing demographics. A 2013 report from the Seattle Jobs Initiative indicates that 75% of businesses surveyed reported that soft skills were as important as or more important than technical skills in securing entry-level employment. The 2013 job outlook report says that employers want good communicators who can make decisions and solve problems while working effectively as part of a team. Times have changed as students are more focused on better educating themselves. Our job as educators will be to not only teach the necessary technical skills to get the job done, but to facilitate our role as coach and mentor. The focus will be on developing these soft skills as the new economy is driven by intellectual capital and people have the capacity and willingness to learn. There has been a shift in culture whereas it’s now more important to be a better fit into the workforce than just demonstrating good technical skills.
Throughout this course my only focus has been, as a future instructor, is to ensure that I can provide students with the required technical skills in metal fabrication. I realize now that I will need to utilize my knowledge and experience in a ‘mentorship’ type of approach as a strategy for my instruction to develop students soft skills, which will help them flourish and will enable them to be competitive in the workplace. As an example, I would provide opportunities for my students to work cooperatively and collaboratively in a team environment. One activity that encourages teamwork is to have students interview each other and then make a bar graph of the results. I believe it would be important for students to be able to demonstrate to potential employers that they are able to work in a team environment and to get along with each other in a mutual and respectful manner.
In my current role as a supervisor, one of my priorities is ensuring that applicants not only have the required technical (hard) skills, but that he/she must be well rounded and able to fit into the workplace also demonstrating those soft skills. The one key insight that I now know is that I will be on the other end of the spectrum as an instructor. My responsibly will be to place a greater emphasis on preparing my students with these soft skills such as understanding the importance of teamwork, and being flexible in adapting to changing technologies in the workplace.
There is a significant emphasis placed on teaching technical skills related to metal fabrication. I will also need to integrate employer cited essential soft skills such as professionalism, work ethic, oral and written communication, and critical thinking/problem solving into my lessons in order to address this new trend and to help students be successful in today’s workplace. Also, adult learners now have a higher expectation in their level of education, which raises my accountability as an instructor to ensure they are receiving an enriched context of learning.
Price, D. (2015). Strategies to integrate soft skills in your class. Cambridge Conversations. Retrieved from http://www.cambridge.org/elt/blog/2015/10/strategies-integrate-soft-skills-class/
Pritchard, J. (n.d.). The importance of soft skills in entry-level employment and postsecondary success: Perspectives from employers and community colleges. Seattle Job Initiative. Retrieved fromhttp://www.seattlejobsinitiative.com/wp-content/uploads/SJI_SoftSkillsReport_vFINAL_1.17.13.pdf