How to teach skills for post-school success

Pomona USD is ensuring that students are ready for college or a career by redesigning its curriculum to include a focus on the ‘soft skills’ needed for success

Career readiness must go hand-in-hand with academic standards.

Will every student pursue higher education? Not necessarily. Should every student be prepared for and have the choice to attend college, or pursue other types of post-high school opportunities—whether it’s to attend a trade school, serve in the military, or enter the workplace? Absolutely.

College and career readiness has become an important topic of conversation across the nation as policy makers, educators, community leaders, and business professionals look for new ways to ensure all students are prepared to succeed after high school.

What makes this so imperative is that, despite our current unemployment rate of nine percent nationwide, nearly 3.2 million jobs go unfilled across all industries, because the individuals applying for these positions simply lack the required skills (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, November 2011).

So what are these deficiencies in skills? Some involve technical expertise, but the vast majority are known as “soft skills”: attitudinal and behavioral skills, social skills, and general workplace skills.

One thing is clear: As educators, we must face the reality that it is no longer enough to teach students to read, write, add, and subtract. The responsibility for preparing our young people with these “soft skills” falls squarely on our shoulders as well.

One size does not fit all

The “one size fits all” education model that focuses on college entry alone won’t work in today’s workforce reality. To provide true college and career readiness, we must ensure that our graduates can convey professionalism, communicate effectively, work successfully on a team, think critically, and solve problems, among other skills.

The importance of soft skills development drove us to supplement our curriculum and focus on these essential areas as well.

(Next page: How to design curriculum programs with the future in mind)

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