Grads need new skills

Meetings to address changes in graduation requirements at B.C. schools will be taking place across the province

In the coming weeks, meetings to address changes in graduation requirements at B.C. schools will take place across the province. These gatherings present valuable opportunities to address some of the issues that make it difficult for recent grads to demonstrate their value as prospective employees when job hunting.

Many of the competences that recent grads will find useful upon entering the workforce will undoubtedly have come from their time spent in the classroom. These skills include analytical thinking, practical problem solving, time management and proficient self-organization, which are employed and encouraged in most academic settings. However, these skills serve only as a foundation upon which more diverse aptitudes need to be developed in order for a student to feel comfortable and entirely capable in the workplace.

As a recent graduate entering the workforce a few years ago, I found myself relying on a skill set that hadn’t been emphasized to a great extent, if at all, in my high school curriculum. Outside the definite constructs of class syllabi and project guidelines, I was operating in an environment characterized by ambiguity and unstructured commotion.

In due time, I had cultivated a new set of abilities: creative problem solving, proficient communication skills, flexible learning, adapting quickly to new situations and working efficiently in a team setting. These are the types of skills that recent grads will likely find the most useful as they begin looking for jobs or careers after graduation. Employers want to know that you can think abstractly and are willing to leave your comfort zone without compromising the quality of your work.

In order for high school students to be more prepared to enter the workplace, high school curricula should focus at least to some extent on the development of these important skills. Occasionally, they should be given tasks or projects with limited guidelines and deliverables with their grade being based on a holistic set of criteria. These tasks should be structured as much as possible in accordance with a typical work scenario and allow them to exercise their creativity freely.

The transition from high school to the workplace should be made as painless as possible for graduates, and the participants in the upcoming meetings around B.C. are in a unique position to make that possible.

Spencer Keene