Almost without exception, employers today value employability skills (a.k.a., soft skills) as much as, if not more than, hard skills. At South Florida State College (SFSC), through a strategic imperative, we have developed a comprehensive program to emphasize and integrate soft skill development alongside hard skill training to help our graduates meet employer expectations. Our goal is to make awareness and demonstration of knowledge of soft skills “stick” with each and every graduate as they transition into the workforce.
Partnering with Alpha Umi of Tarpon Springs, the College offers 5G Power Skills training and certification for faculty and staff through professional development, for students by embedding soft skills focus directly into the curriculum, and for the local community by offering soft skills training via CWE. The 5G Essential Power Skills Certification course aligns with the 19 competencies for soft skills defined by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) and includes critical thinking and problem solving, oral and written communication, teamwork, digital technology, professionalism and work ethic, and career management.
Over the past year, we have:
- Partnered with our local CareerSource and obtained a grant from CareerSource Florida to provide soft skills training for businesses and individuals in our local communities through a 25-hour 5G Essential Power Skills Certification course.
- Developed and implemented a two-credit hour academic course, Five Generations in the Workforce, as an elective course.
- Identified the key soft skills required for each of our academic pathways that will be subsequently emphasized in the core courses within each pathway
- Mandated that a discussion of desired soft skills and current observed level of mastery by our graduates be part of all regularly scheduled industry partner advisory board meetings.
We plan to continue the momentum in the coming year by:
- Developing and will implementing a soft skills boot camp that will be a prerequisite before any student can participate in an internship within the local community as part of their program of study.
- Shifting soft skills training to virtual delivery via Zoom due to the ongoing pandemic.
Experience has shown us that soft skills cannot simply be taught once and mastered. Repeated exposure and emphasis is required in order to make soft skills “stick” with our students. We believe that that initiatives we have started and are implementing will not only make this happen but will help us meet the needs of our local community.