Did you know that the number one skill employers look for in new hires is creative problem-solving? In fact, many hiring managers feel that while technical job knowledge is desired, it’s not as important as “soft skills” like problem-solving, critical thinking and teamwork. It’s not surprising that these social and emotional competencies rank high on the list of desired employee traits. Yet, fewer and fewer young adults are entering the workforce equipped with what many employers feel should be innate social and emotional skills.

The Problem: Finding Qualified Job Applicants

A group of organizations, including the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), Career Technical Education (CTE) and the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21), recently published a report showing 31 percent of employers worldwide struggle to find qualified employees. A major reason for the qualified labor shortage is that fewer students are graduating high school with the social and emotional skills required for today’s workplace.

Social and Emotional Skills Critical to the Workplace

Forbes Magazine published survey results collected from The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) on the top 10 skills employers want in graduates. These skills are listed below, ranked in order of highest priority. As you can see, the top four skills are directly related to social and emotional learning (SEL) competencies.

  1. Ability to work in a team structure (relationship skills)
  2. Ability to make decisions and solve problems (tie) (decision-making)
  3. Ability to communicate verbally with people inside and outside an organization (social awareness)
  4. Ability to plan, organize and prioritize work (goal-directed behavior)
  5. Ability to obtain and process information
  6. Ability to analyze quantitative data
  7. Technical knowledge related to the job
  8. Proficiency with computer software programs
  9. Ability to create and/or edit written reports
  10. Ability to sell and influence others

How Schools Can Equip Students with the SEL Skills Employers Desire

The good news is that schools can help students develop these critical social and emotional skills. Aperture Education’s Evo Social/Emotional Platform provides research-based assessments, data-interpretation strategies, implementation practices, and lesson plans. With our platform, schools can begin developing social and emotional skills in students as early as kindergarten.

Students need more than just technical knowledge to secure a job in today’s workplace. Employers agree that the most important employee skills are SEL-based. It’s no longer enough for schools to only provide instruction in core subjects like math, science and reading. Educators need to prioritize teaching students social and emotional skills so students can enter the workforce prepared to succeed.

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