A 2018 survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers asked employers which attributes they most value among new hires, beyond a strong GPA and technical skills. The results identified a number of what are often called “soft skills.” At the top of the list, and maybe not too much of a surprise, is problem-solving skills. Tied with that attribute was the ability to work in a team. Written communication came in next. The final seven attributes, listed in order of importance, were leadership, a strong work ethic, analytical/qualitative skills, oral communication skills, initiative, detail oriented and flexibility/adaptability.
By design, Lee College’s programs of study not only include the content or technical knowledge, but also include the general education courses as well as the soft skills that are listed above. In Texas, public community colleges and universities have a 42-hour “core set of courses.” This 42-hour core includes courses from the following categories: Communication; Math and Science; Language, Philosophy and Culture; Creative Arts; American History; Government; Social and Behavioral Sciences; and Oral Communication. As you can see from these categories, much of what is expected by employers does get addressed within the content of the core curriculum courses. This core is required in our two-year Associate of Arts degree, Associate of Science degree and Associate of Arts in Teaching degree.
For our year-long Certificate of Completion programs, students are required to complete 15 credit hours of core courses, so these students, which are majoring in technical fields, also receive many of the attributes requested by employers. Often times individual course within the major field of study courses address the requisite soft skills.
This holds true for the short-term non-credit workforce training programs offered by Lee College’s Center for Workforce and Community Development. Though these programs are typically designed for entry level job training, the Center also offers upskill training for employees advancing within their chosen profession, as well as individuals looking for a career change. Ensuring that these students receive exposure to the attributes sought by employers is key to their success on the job.
Duke Energy, a public utility company, noted that “we often think millennials as being naturally tech-savvy because they have grown up with smart phones and other technologies embedded in their lives. But just because they know how to swipe an app doesn’t mean they know how to critically analyze information.” I often hear from business and industry that as important as technical knowledge and skills are, along with experience, similarly important are the attributes cited above.
Lee College prides itself on the quality of our programs, faculty and staff. With that pride comes a responsibility to successfully prepare our students for the workforce of today and tomorrow. A credit certificate, degree or noncredit workforce training program will ensure that you have been well prepared to successfully assimilate into your chosen profession. That includes content knowledge, skills and abilities, and of course the soft skills sought after by your employers. Come visit Lee College and let us get you on a pathway to a successful future.
Dr. Dennis Brown is president of Lee College.