Making learners develop their employability skills

In the age of Google Translate and other translation devices and apps do people still need to take all the time, effort and money required to learn a language? Why?

If you answered the question above affirmatively you’re in good company. Because language skills can and will improve learners’ employability along with necessary skills and techniques.

A quick look at the History of Employability Skills in Adult Education in the US will present this brief scenario:

  1. In 1990 the U.S. Secretary of Labor organized the Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS). The commission engaged in a thorough study to document and understand the attributes youth should acquire before they enter the work force, and published the findings as Learning for Living: A Blueprint for High Performance (U.S. Department of Labor, 1992).

2. In 2000 a document was published under the heading of “Equipped for the Future Framework” (EFF) presenting content standards that were developed over a 6-year period by hundreds of adult education practitioners, experts, and others nationwide to create a working consensus on what adults need to know and be able to do in the 21st century. 

3. In 2002 The Partnership for 21st Century Skills as a public-private organization of leaders and educators in business and education worked to close the gap between the knowledge and skills most students learn in school and the knowledge and skills they need in a typical 21st century community and workplace.

4. In 2013 A report was elaborated describing how these College and Career Readiness (CCR) standards can enable adult education programs to establish a framework for
developing or updating their standards.

5. And more recently – The Employability Skills Framework which is comprised of nine key skills, organized in three broad categories.

Why Employability Skills? Successful careers are built on solid personal and interpersonal skills. Defining, measuring, and building these skills— even naming them— can be challenging.

Students must develop skills to go beyond basic communication – project development; perform basic computation; make decisions and solve problems; apply technology to a task; combine ideas and information; manage money; and develop critical thinking.

Some of these skills used to be called “soft” skills but they’re key and central to the successful of an individual both academically and professionally in the 21 century.

Gone are the days of simply presenting boxed-in grammar points and drills, they must work together for the whole development of the human being in the new challenges of the 21st Century.