While pursuing STEM may be one of the best ways for students to maximize their career potential after college, even a science degree won’t guarantee a young person their dream job. When hiring someone without extensive work experience, employers look for demonstrable skills that can be applied to achieving company goals.
“21st century skills” is now a common term in education. Leadership, communication, collaboration, critical thinking, problem solving, etc., have taken on new importance, as global competition intensifies the need for “real-world readiness.”
In the push for maximizing standardized test scores, it’s easy to deemphasize these real-world skills in our lesson plans. However, helping your students cultivate those skills is also easier than you think.
Collaboration and Teamwork Skills
Group projects are the best way to help students develop teamwork. As they work together, students learn how to communicate, solve problems, and handle conflict. However, for most students, the components of good collaboration aren’t immediately obvious. Before your project kicks off, educate your students about the importance of skills like:
- Identifying priorities
- Building a consensus
- Enabling individual contribution
For specific classroom exercises to help your students grasp these skills, check out: Teaching Students the Art of Collaboration.
Project Management Skills
U.S. News & World Report identifies Project Management as #1 on their list of 7 Key Skills You Need to Get Hired Right Now. If you teach your students project management skills, they’ll be better prepared for success with school projects, college, and the workforce. In fact, project management can be a career in itself; ITpreneurs predicts demand for more than 1.3 million new project management jobs by 2020.
Before your students undertake their next class project, task them with composing a thorough Project Plan, which you must approve prior to project implementation. In fact, the true value of this exercise is in the planning; the project itself could be hypothetical.
Your students’ Project Plan should contain the following elements:
- Action Items
- Risk Factors
Budget is frequently an important component of real-world projects, so be sure to include it in your class discussion, even it if will not be a factor in the actual assignment.
Download a free Project Plan classroom activity guide here.
In most real-world careers it’s critically important to effectively articulate objectives, plans, problems, or decisions. In the field of Sales – in which there will always be available jobs – you must be able to articulate the qualities of the product you're selling.
Writing skills are at least as valuable as speaking skills. In a world where little transpires without email communication, writing is now a key element of most professions. Many young people dismiss the importance of grammar and spelling in their text-centric lives, but hiring managers do not. U.S. News & World Report says, “something as innocuous as the wrong "their" could keep you out of the running for a dream position.”
In their article, 5 Skills That Will Impress Every Hiring Manager, The Muse elaborates, saying that hiring managers “want to know that you will effectively represent the company when communicating with colleagues and clients… Most importantly, they want to see that you’re able to clearly share your point of view in a concise and professional way.”
Obviously we’re preaching to the choir – teachers have been stressing the importance of proper communication since the dawn of education. However, as you insist that students’ papers contain proper English, also exercise their public speaking skills, with classroom discussions and verbal presentation assignments. Few things are as empowering for a child as being able to find their voice and express themselves.
The Leader Within
As students prepare to enter an increasingly competitive career market, they must do so with the confidence and skills required for success. Empower them to find the leader within by nominating them for one of Envision’s summer leadership programs.
The Junior National Young Leaders Conference (JrNYLC) is designed to help 5th, 6th, and 7th graders explore the essence of leadership, in pursuit of their dreams. At this 6-day summer camp, the history and leadership legacy of our nation’s capital becomes the discovery ground on which students develop their own voice, passions and potential.
At the Global Young Leaders Conference, high school students expand their horizons and explore their future on a new level, as they interact with renowned global issues experts, and gain the perspective that equips them for today’s globally competitive world.
Envision wholeheartedly supports the effort to help prepare students for college and career success. Thus, 21st Century Skills workshops are part of every Envision program agenda.