8 steps for teaching students modern workforce skills

Gap exists between the percent of educators who think these skills are essential and those who feel these competencies are being taught well
By: | October 8, 2020
Career exploration and experiential learning are key approaches to teaching students key modern workforce skills, educators say in a new report. (GettyImages/Luis Alvarez)Career exploration and experiential learning are key approaches to teaching students key modern workforce skills, educators say in a new report. (GettyImages/Luis Alvarez)

Educators think their schools could do a better job teaching digital skills, business acumen and the teamwork students need in the modern workforce, according to a new report.

A gap exists between the percent of educators who think these skills are essential and those who feel these competencies are being taught adequately, according to “The View from the Schoolhouse: How Middle and High School Educators See the Skills Shaping the Modern Economy” by American Student Assistance and Burning Glass Technologies.

This gap is wider in classrooms in which a majority of the students are Black or Latinx, or receive free- and reduced-price lunch, the report found.

Now for the good news: Two-thirds of teachers and nearly 90% of school counselors and administrators say they can personally take steps to improve the teaching of modern workforce skills.


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Career exploration and experiential learning are key approaches to teaching these skills, educators in the report said.

Educators ranked modern workforce skills in the following order of importance:

  • Communication skills
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Collaboration skills
  • Project management skills
  • Analytical skills
  • Creativity skills
  • Communicating data skills
  • Analyzing data skills
  • Computer programming skills
  • Managing data skills
  • Digital design skills
  • Software development skills

How to teach workforce skills

The report makes the following recommendations for improved instruction in modern workforce skills:

  • Evaluate curriculum for opportunities to connect these skills to classroom instruction.
  • Identify teachers who want to spearhead a new schoolwide focus on modern workforce skills.
  • Encourage teachers to assess student development of these skills.
  • Ask administrators for additional tools and resources for teaching these skills.
  • Budget for experiential learning and career exploration.
  • Guide students toward internships, apprenticeships and other outside opportunities for skill development.
  • Invite business partners to speak at school and host shark tank events that allow students to pitch concepts to industry leaders.
  • Create courses that culminate career exploration projects or showcases.

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