According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) around 21.0 million students attended American colleges and universities this year. As the number of students and the cost of college continue to increase, students need to find jobs where they can see a return on investment. However, too many new graduates aren’t meeting the needs of today’s job market resulting in lower salaries and specific markets with unfilled positions.
I challenge us to ask ourselves can we create a better connection between future job market needs and setting students up with the skills and knowledge needed to be successful? Is there a correct balance between soft skills and technical skills?
The answer is yes. In other words, we need to provide a good general education for students, as well as specific skills. Recently there have been major advances in higher education institutions with the launch of student success centers. These programs explore new ways to approach and facilitate student success within their college career and beyond.
We have to give students the direction and tools they need to succeed in the future job market. One big way we can approach this is through curriculum, instruction and advisement that provides a mix of knowledge and skills.
A K-12 program championing this effort is Project Lead the Way (PLTW). Their curriculum sets students up with skills regardless of their pursuit in a technically focused field. Even if a student isn’t pursuing a degree in, science, technology, engineering or manufacturing PLTW builds a foundation for innovation and problem solving while also balancing the soft skills needed to succeed.
Let’s keep this conversation going -- What are other ways we can place a greater emphasis on understanding future workforce needs and training students around these needs?