Let’s be direct: What is your Employability Strategy?

Corina Santoro is the author
This post was originally posted on WCET Frontiers.
I was able to speak with WCET about soft skills, their importance, how they affect employability, and why they are so important in today’s workplace.
I have continued this conversation with educators across the country and often heard similar feedback.
We all know that students seek education to get a job. Yet, employers often tell us that students who graduate without the necessary skills are not able to succeed in their job. Soft skills are valued more than hard skills in the hiring process, according to 92 percent of HR professionals. Only 11 percent of business leaders agree with Chief Academic Officers 96 percent believing they are doing a good job preparing students for the workforce. Computers are changing the future of work, whether we like it or not. Futurists, who study the future work, agree that soft skills will become more important and will continue to grow in demand.
What is our strategy for affordability?
How can we make education more accessible?
How can we help students overcome life’s challenges that hinder learning?
How can we improve student retention?
I am energized by their questions, and eager to hear about the new initiatives being talked about by other educators.
When it’s mine turn to speak, I drop a employability bomb:
The answer is always silence.
Education should be affordable and accessible. We must also do our best to remove student learning barriers. But if we don’t prepare students for success in the workforce, what’s the point of solving these problems?
The system is still in crisis, but we can work together to create solutions.
The debate quickly escalates in a room of passionate educators. They discuss the current resources available to students to help them enter the workforce. This includes resume building, interview preparation, and leveraged relationships with local employers. There is an overall recognition that there are still many things that need to change.
Cengage is in the action phase. We have developed an Employability Skill Framework that includes entry-level skills required by employers in all industries. This framework was created after nearly two years of collaboration with employers. This framework is the core of our Employability program and guides all that we do. We are excited about the future experiences for students by integrating these skills into courseware. However, courseware evolution is a long process that takes time.
We asked ourselves what could we do today.
Cengage Unlimited Career Center is one solution. It allows students to explore career options, learn the most-demanded skills for employment, and how to transition into the workforce.
We’ve begun brainstorming ways to reach students by working with our institutional partners, who work within their existing structures.
Programmatically integrating employability skills learning modules into curriculum
Enhance the effectiveness of early alert systems and retention systems by replacing labor-intensive workshops by digital lessons
Turnkey programs that can easily be implemented by departments without funding for strong career centers
The Cengage Employability program’s modular structure allows for student learning to be adapted in a way that is most beneficial.
We can work together to provide affordable access for students to high-quality education that closes the skills gap in employability and prepares them for success at work.
Consider these questions in the meantime:
How can employers validate and align skills?
Where can you integrate employability skills into an existing curriculum?
How can you help your students develop employability skills beyond their course?
What is your strategy for employability?
1 Cengage, 2018 “The People Factor: Uniquely Human Skills at Workplace,” 2018.
2 “Robot Ready? Labor Market Analysis: “Human+ Skills” in High Demand,” Strada Education Network November 13, 2018