Have you kept up with the latest research on graduates, and how they’re doing in the workplace? I just met with the executive staff of the Georgia Department of Education and we both are concerned. Somehow, regardless of how well we improve students’ math and reading scores—there is still a skill gap when they move from backpack to briefcase.
This problem isn’t limited to the U.S. It’s global. One report out of the U.K. revealed that almost half of employers failed to fill vacancies (did you catch that—they had job vacancies) last year because many university graduates lack basic communication and leadership skills. Even government departments experienced problems finding suitable candidates as graduates with often “very good degrees” were unable to impress anyone during interviews, said a report by the Association of Graduate Recruiters. According to the report, grads were unable to demonstrate the right combination of “softer” skills such as teamwork or emotional intelligence.
1. Jobs are changing
2. Education is lagging
What are employers looking for, according to the polls by ASTD? It won’t shock you, but they’re looking for leadership skills, basic people skills and communication skills. Hmmm. I wonder if we’re keeping the wrong scorecard? While I agree math and science are important—if this is all we teach and grade, we’ve failed our students. If we don’t teach relationship skills and how to lead a team—we’ve done them a disservice and will not keep up with our global economy.
Dr. John Barge is our Georgia State Superintendent of Schools. He has created a plan to focus on developing students’ Head, Hands and Heart. This means our focus is:
* Head: we will improve traditional scores on current subjects like math, science and reading.
* Hands: we will develop practical life skills in students that make them employable and valuable.
* Heart: we will equip them with a moral compass and help them build character, values and ethics as they enter a pluralistic society.
Let me hear from you. What’s your scorecard for evaluating how well you’ve led and taught your students? Are we measuring the wrong stuff?