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[DWD] Employability Skills: The Baseline for Success in all Occupations

By Amy Marsh, DWD Associate Chief Operating Officer for Business Intelligence
In addition to academic and technical skill attainment, employers have long sought high-quality “soft skills” in their new and incumbent employees. The only problem with this aspiration is that “soft skills” were never clearly defined and do not identify the same skills from industry to industry or company to company. This creates a moving target for those who teach these skills.
In response, DWD recently created Employability Skills Benchmarks that have been vetted by Hoosier employers, and enable Hoosier educational and training providers to have a commonly understood set of skills that students should seek to demonstrate. DWD has identified a great opportunity to initiate meaningful conversations among employers and educators to determine:
What are these soft skills?
How can we teach them?; and
How will we know when an individual has acquired them?
DWD is not alone in this endeavor. The commonality across the nation is the unilateral move to call these skills “employability skills,” which is a more true identification of their purpose. This terminology shift allows us to clearly define these skills and seek measurements for each. Some regions across the state have found innovative ways to measure these skills. For example, regions 1 and 10 have developed their own Work Ethic Certification in collaboration with local business and industry leaders. These Work Ethic Certificates demonstrate students’ mastery of many employability skills.
As other regions or communities create ways to teach and measure these critical skills, DWD will share their work through this newsletter. Please share your similar work or initiatives with Amy Marsh at amarsh@dwd.in.gov.

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