Employability and Connected Learning Overview

What are employability skills and their value?

Employability skills are commonly referred to as noncognitive skills, soft-skills, workplace readiness skills, and 21st-century skills. Child Trends define noncognitive skills as a broad set of skills, competencies, behaviors, attitudes, and personal qualities enabling people to effectively navigate the environment, work well with others, perform well, and achieve their goals regardless of employment level, sector or industry.

Image of word cloud. Sample skills included in word cloud include create, adapt, information literacy, communication, collaboration, media-literacy, self-directd and problem-solving.Why should faculty integrate employability skills development into courses?

  • As students prepare for a complex global workforce, it’s important to be aware that:
    • employability skills are cited as among the most important skills employers seek;
    • employers continue to be challenged to find qualified job applicants with these skills;
    • employers consistently state both field-specific knowledge and a broad range of knowledge and skills is important for recent college graduates to achieve long-term career success, according to a 2015 Hart Research Survey.
  • Only 43% of almost 1000 respondents in an IBM Institute Report of industry and academia leaders said higher education gave students the skills they needed to join the workforce. This coincides with conversations that emerged at the World Economic Forum in 2016 about The Future of Jobs and Jobs Training and the necessity for change in educational and learning environments to help people stay employable in the labor force of the future. Eighty-seven percent of workers also believe they will need to develop new job skills throughout their work life in order to keep up with changes in the workplace according to the 2016 Pew Research Center Survey.
  • Employability skill development requires more than just becoming knowledgeable about the skill. As with developing any new skill, it requires practice over time, modeling, feedback for improvement and opportunities to demonstrate proficiency and habit formation prior to graduation. A best practice is to design authentic learning activities that provide students with multiple and diverse learning opportunities throughout their educational career providing ample time for skill development.