6 Job Skills Every Student Needs
Education today receives a lot of criticism for being unable to teach basic job skills to students in need. While it is certainly true that it should be a function of education to get students ready for the workforce, it is also important to note that students and parents must meet teachers halfway in instilling these job skills.
If you are a teacher, student or parent wondering what the necessary requirements are for a student looking to enter the workforce in the next few years, the following six are a great starting point. Let’s have a look!
1. Following directions
Every job takes on its own set of specialty knowledge and requirements, but most share one specific attribute in common — the need for the individual worker to pay attention and follow directions until the functions of the job become second nature to them. Teachers who communicate their expectations clearly to students are doing their part; but the student must also understand the benefits and the repercussions depending on whether they choose to follow directions or not. In a classroom, students have the opportunity to follow directions every time they take a test or do a homework assignment with a written or oral set of instructions.
Think of it like a game of “Simon Says.” Everything your teacher advises you to do, do it. Try it out for one class period, taking notes or working on an in-class assignment. Make it your mission for the 50- or 90-minute class period to orchestrate a response for everything that your teacher says. As for parents, work to make sure that your child has responsibilities inside the home, and that those responsibilities come equipped with both incentives and repercussions. Your children must understand basic cause-and-effect when following directions.
2. Responding well to authority
The teacher tells the student to quiet down, to open their books to a certain page, to get busy on the homework assignment, to have their projects turned in by a certain date, or to simply be quiet while others work on an assignment the student has already finished — and the student actually does it! While this may seem like an extension of following directions, it deserves its own place here because students need to realize that throughout the course of their lives there will be situations where they are in charge and where they are not in charge. The only way for either of these situations to turn out well is for everyone to realize the role of authority and leadership and pay it the respect it deserves.
Don’t take anything from a teacher as a suggestion unless it is specifically given as such (i.e. the teacher gives you a choice as to what you can work on during downtime). Parents, you cannot be your child’s friend. You must be a guide and a teacher of your own and have the will to say, “No,” when your child wants to do something that isn’t in their best interests. By just trying to be their friend all the time, you’re not preparing them for those moments when a boss gives them a command and expects them to perform.
3. Resolving conflicts
Students will get into disagreements with other students, with their teachers, and with their parents. Being angry at someone, however, does not free one of their duties and obligations, either at school, home, or work. You have to learn to work through frustrations for a greater purpose, even if it means that you and a classmate disagree on how something should be done. You must learn compromise.
Give and take. Students do not always have to like the assignments they are given, and they don’t always have to like the classmates sitting next to them; but there will inevitably be a variety of situations where they have to work with teachers and fellow students in spite of it. The best thing one can do: learn to pick their battles. Prioritize what is important. Let your voice be heard on what isn’t, but be willing to acquiesce when it prevents you from getting the work done. Parents, illustrate appropriate conflict resolution skills in how you deal with your relationship and with other people.
4. Serving others
It’s hard to learn for students who are trying to figure out who they are in life, but there comes a point when one needs to step outside of their own needs and solve the needs of someone else. Students must learn how to subordinate themselves to both institutional authority as well as the kind of ancillary authority that comes with the duties of a job. Example: you work in a department store and a customer needs help. Do you avoid them and let someone else deal with it, or step up and work with them to solve their problem? While the customer cannot fire you, it is in your best interests to serve them because in doing so, you keep your boss happy and your store successful. The better you perform at this, the longer you will have a job. The longer the job, the more money you make.
In school, you may find yourself in a situation where you need to help someone else even though they can’t fail you or get you in trouble. The simple act of doing so will help you add to your job skills repertoire. Parents, by modeling this behavior at home and in your job, you can do a much better job of teaching students how to pull it off themselves.
5. Planning ahead
Tests and projects are great ways for teachers to institute the urgency needed in planning ahead. Students can acquire this ability to strategize by fighting against procrastination and planning out each action item that needs to be performed to prepare for a test or have a project ready to turn in by a certain date. While on the job, not every demand that will be placed on you will be accomplishable by the time you clock out. That’s why it is important to hone your strategizing skills early when you’re still a student. Parents, a good way to help your students get there is to be involved enough in their school to keep them on track for major tests and assignments.
Basic job skills like the five mentioned above come in handy for sure, but if you really want to excel in the workforce, you have to spread out from the basics to a specialty. That’s why it is so important for students to develop a proficiency even in subjects that don’t come easy. Knowing enough about a subject to realize what your strengths and weaknesses are will guide you toward career opportunities in which you can be your best. Parents, help students at home by getting involved in their homework and exposing them to a variety of experiences, information and skill sets. By teaching the art of specialization, you can help them find a career they can be passionate about, and that will help them to succeed.
Expect job skills to become a more important part of the teaching curriculum in the coming years as we strive to become a more globally competitive society. That said, it’s not a teacher’s responsibility to make sure you meet them halfway, parents and students. Buy into what is happening in the classroom, and you can write your own ticket.