Society today needs to understand what education stands for in our lives. It is not about learning huge volumes of information but to apply what is learned with necessary skills. Students must build the skills needed most for their profession while they are still learning in the college. Universities, institutes, and academies have one common goal that their students should develop the necessary skills and most of them are doing it by including skill-building opportunities within the campus through learning events. According to a 2017 survey more than 75% of employers look for job applicants with hands-on skills in teamwork, problem-solving, and communication.
Skills Students Need Most to be Successful
The current education system stresses on the pre-decided rigid curriculum. The examination pattern evaluates students on lower-level skills like memory and ability to recall information.
The demand for self-directed workers is felt more than before and students who can adapt and learn quickly, communicate effectively and innovate in their field of study will be selected for premium jobs. Gone are the days of an obedient worker who comes to fill in the time and follow the directions. It is predicted that the jobs that exist today will vanish in due course of time and almost two third of the students will be working in jobs that the industry has not created yet.
The following skills will make a difference in performance.
Adaptive Thinking: Things are changing at exponential rates with advancement of technology. Employees of the future will need to continuously learn new things and adapt to changing conditions. In such a scenario students need to learn how to learn first and agility in learning depends on their adaptive thinking.
Communication Skills: The ability to communicate is one of the most prominent deciding factors for success. Employers always search for the best communicators to fill in their managerial positions. Students must learn to convey the meaning in the right words at the right time which will be a crucial requirement in the future.
Collaboration Skills: The culture of collaboration and team efforts are emerging rapidly. They have to collaborate in the teams and external organization also. Students are habitual to competition and perform independently, the ability to succeed in a team as the most worthy contributor to it is also necessary.
Problem Solving Skills: There is an increased emphasis on employers thinking critically and solving problems for themselves. As the world is changing rapidly, employers need people who can solve problems on their own, provide ideas and help improve the organization.
Technology Skills: Technology has spread to every corner of business and companies expect their employees to be technically sound. Students must learn advanced technologies and keep themselves updated with this knowledge.
Creativity and Innovation: Most companies are automating their operations to the maximum extent possible and therefore the jobs of the future will not have any repetitive tasks that can be done by machines. Hence, employees will be required for creative and innovative thinking that provides solutions as well as new ideas.
Soft Skills: Soft skills are often ignored as they are intangible and are not evaluated but they form the base of all other skills required for success. The skills such as time management, organizational skills, the ability to deal with the people in a decent manner and respecting the culture or personal dignity of others are few examples that cannot be evaluated formally but are essential. Students learn these from peers and their social environment hence schools and colleges need to create an environment where students learn these skills.
Methods to Build the Skills
There are different ways by which colleges can inculcate the skills in their students. Many of these methods like internships and projects are already in place.
The externship is a simple and short way to get exposure to jobs roles. Duration of this coursework can be from a half day to few weeks. The internship is longer and more common with the duration of a week to a semester. Students may get the internships in a company or nonprofit organization for a limited amount of time. These provide an opportunity to learn more about a field of interest while completing tasks or projects by assisting in the regular work of the company. Cooperative Education in another method which students undergo paid professional experiences along with coursework in an alternate semester.
Project work is the best method of all-round learning. It has an advantage of being created as per the needs of the students. Projects are usually designed to solve an existing problem in the company and activities can be completed alone or in groups. Projects take various forms like a research-based thesis, art-work, production and performance, designing a prototype, working with managers in designing real-time company projects.
Student organizations are fertile ground for budding talent that can sharpen their skills. Campus clubs, sports teams, cultural groups are examples where student get the opportunity to test their own potential before they show their talent to the world. Students with interests in the same area can teach each other through peer learning.
Leadership workshops are becoming popular now for building up the leadership skills of students. These workshops also help in the development of communication skills and team attitude. Many colleges have set up leadership centers exclusively for the purpose of training and mentoring students.
Integrating Skills in College Education
Education and training enhance a student’s ability to lead a successful professional life. Colleges are coming up with innovative plans for skill development with the support of the government agencies.
Skill training is an essential component to be a competitive candidate. Various areas in production or service sectors need experts in a specific field of knowledge than a candidate with a generalized background. The teaching methods and overall pedagogy have to be practical and learning can be enhanced through real industry exposure in different formats. Integration of skills has to be done in education as it cannot be carried out in isolation outside the college. Respective practical skills must be learned along with theory while students are still in college.
The industry will immensely benefit from it if educational institutions and colleges ensure that every student passing out of their system is well-trained in practical skills along with the regular academic education.