As a colleague and I were discussing the Common Core standards, I read the Mission Statement again, and I kept coming back to this sentence in the statement: “The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers.”
Even though the Common Core focus is on academic skills, there are a set of skills that are not being addressed in the classroom, which are “soft skills” or workforce readiness skills that are essential for workplace success.
The United States Department of Labor lists six “Soft Skills”, which are:
Soft Skill #1: Communication
Communications provide information to others, but also help them consider how others may prefer to receive information. It is important to reinforce that communication skills involve give and take — and they can, indeed, be learned and strengthened over time.
Soft Skill #2: Enthusiasm & Attitude
Individuals should know the importance of enthusiasm and a positive attitude in the workplace and they need strategies for turning negative thinking into positive thinking and displaying and discussing enthusiasm during an interview and on the job.
Soft Skill #3: Teamwork
The activities in this section seek to teach participants about Employers want future employees to know the importance of teamwork to workplace success and the specific role each individual on a team may play and how their own conduct can impact others on a team.
Soft Skill #4: Networking
Networking and its relevance and importance to career development is about taking initiative and overcoming fear, informational interviewing, as well as potential guidelines to consider when using social networks, texting, and email for networking purposes.
Soft Skill #5: Problem Solving & Critical Thinking
Individuals should be able to tell the difference among criticism, praise, and feedback and reacting appropriately and they should have strategies for making ethical decisions, solving problems on a team with others, and learning how to take into account others' perceptions when assessing actions or statements in the workplace.
Soft Skill #6: Professionalism
Professionalism focuses on each of the five individual soft skills (communication, enthusiasm/attitude, teamwork, networking, and problem solving/critical thinking), but in a broader framework. This is because professionalism is not one skill, but the blending and integration of a variety of skills.
Both academic and soft skills are essential for Workplace Success. However, due to our fast paced world, soft skills are rarely taught at home and time constraints at school make it nearly impossible to implement curriculum in the classroom. Perhaps “soft skills” should be offered as an elective in high school.