Too many entry-level job applicants today lack the workplace skills – like communications, team work, critical thinking and time management – that they need to be effective employees.
These skills aren’t learned by osmosis; they have to be taught, and they should be taught in school.
At New Jersey’s 21 county vocational-technical school districts, more than 32,000 students receive excellent technical training in their chosen programs of study, but it is the solid foundation in employability skills training they receive that helps them become productive, effective employees and have lasting, successful careers.
But many other students and young adults lack this opportunity, and as the state emerges from a long recession and employers look to expand and hire more people, all stakeholders have a role to play in the career readiness and employability skills training of New Jersey’s students.
To address this, NJBIA, the State Employment and Training Commission and the NJ Council of County Vocational-Technical Schools are advocating for a greater focus on employability skills and career readiness training at all levels of our public education system. Educators, employers, workforce trainers, nonprofits and policymakers are all involved in ensuring that all job applicants (recent graduates or otherwise) have the skills they need for the world of work.
Over the past year, these groups have met separately and together to determine how they can improve the workplace skills training provided to our students and young adults. For educators and workforce training stakeholders, incorporating career readiness into the classroom has been a top priority.
These stakeholders are not alone. Employers and business professionals throughout the state have said they are willing to support career-readiness education, both in and out of the classroom.
While many employers are already involved in career and technical education through partnerships with the county vocational-technical schools, we are continuing to show business professionals how they can support employability skills training while benefiting from these relationships at the same time.
Business professionals can reinforce career-ready education by speaking to classes, serving as mentors, providing internships and working with schools in many different ways.
And employers don’t have to wait until they hire these future workers to reap the benefits of getting involved with schools: Helping students can increase a business’ social equity, and having existing employees and management partner with these schools actually improves their leadership skills.
For more information, or to get involved with NJBIA’s Employability Skills Task Force or other groups engaged in this on-going discussion, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 609-858-9507.
Tyler Seville is the associate director for education and workforce development at the New Jersey Business & Industry Association. NJBIA is the nation’s largest statewide employer association. Its more than 20,000 members represent every industry in New Jersey and employ more than one million people.