The world may describe what we do as teaching employability skills. I call it social-emotional learning (SEL). Having social-emotional skills – skills such as self-management, forming positive relationships, and responsible decision-making – are critical to becoming “career-ready.”

When you look at the top 10 skills required in any sector, at least 7 out of 10 have to do with these types of skills. Employers use the term “employability skills” and some in education and policy use “soft skills.”

Related content: 5 benefits of SEL in classrooms

Regardless of what sector a person is going into, skills such as getting along with peers and handling conflict, or managing emotions when under a stressful deadline, are what employers say they want in a potential employee. An essential part of being college and career ready means understanding and being able to demonstrate these skills in addition to the technical skills required to do the job.

How do K-12 schools help their students learn these SEL skills before they graduate? By adding it to their curriculum and giving students authentic opportunities for practice.

About the Author:

Lindsey Dixon is the Director of Career Readiness for the Urban Assembly.


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