By Hannah Gonzalez
Pulse Staff Reporter
Professors at Palo Alto College incorporate soft skills that employers desire in the work environment.
Soft skills are personal and professional attributes that enable any individual to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people in the community and in the workplace.
These skills include written and oral communication, critical thinking, quantitative skills, and the ability to work well in teams, as well as personal and social responsibility. These six learning outcomes are required by the State of Texas to be taught in the core curriculum.
“At Palo Alto College, professors recognize the importance of inculcating these soft skills into the curriculum; this enables students to become useful individuals of society. Students who acquire these soft skills will also become more professional, competent, employable and effective workers,” said Dr. Ray Pfang, dean of Academic Success.
Students who develop teamwork skills learn how to be respectful, become mindful of others and be more responsible. Pfang implements the Belbin Group Theory in his Business Strategic Management class.
According to Belbin, nine distinct characteristics embody individuals. You are either a shaper, an implementer, a completer-finisher, a coordinator, a team worker, a resource investigator, a plant (someone who generates ideas and creative solutions), a monitor-evaluator or a specialist. As a team player, it is helpful when you recognize who you are to evaluate your strengths and to compensate for your weaknesses.
Communication skills strengthen employees by learning how to speak effectively, by using the right words, language and tone of voice. These skills also help you become an active listener when providing over-the-phone and face-to-face customer service.
Lilian Thippatong, a Cosmetology student, said, “We practice on each other, making communication very important in the Cosmetology field. It’s more than making somebody pretty. It’s our responsibility to maintain the image of the industry. Sometimes results don’t go as planned, so we have to troubleshoot the problem.”
Julie McDevitt, Academic Assessment coordinator, said, “Cosmetology teachers incorporate communication and critical thinking in all courses, making the program more than just technical skills. Teaching soft skills that employers want in the Professional and Tech Ed programs; this is what makes PAC a better place to go than technical schools.”
McDevitt and Tracie Brown, Cosmetology instructor, will present at the LEAP Texas Conference at the end of March 2019. They will highlight the benefits of including Institutional Learning Outcomes in technical programs.
“We’re trying to go above and beyond because we think it’s not just important for students taking the core but all students,” said McDevitt. “I’m trying to help faculty think more deeply about how to incorporate these skills, so when we assess them, we’ll find that students have improved from year to year.”
“Fulfilling the American Dream: Liberal Education and the Future of Work” by the Hart Research Association found hiring managers want graduates who are able to effectively communicate orally and in writing, think critically, make ethical judgments, work well in teams, work independently, self-motivate, and apply knowledge in a real-world setting.
“The future of Texas depends on a skilled and dynamic workforce and that begins with Texas students,” according to a Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board report. “Right now, not enough students are completing the levels of education needed to fill the jobs that will be available.”
For more information regarding the six institutional learning outcomes, contact McDevitt at (210) 486-3735 or firstname.lastname@example.org.