A special report by The Chronicle of Higher Education and American Public Media’s Marketplace published in March found that about half of 704 employers who participated in the study said they had trouble finding recent college graduates qualified to fill positions at their company.
But, surprisingly, it wasn’t necessarily specific technical skills that were lacking.“When it comes to the skills most needed by employers, job candidates are lacking most in written and oral communication skills, adaptability and managing multiple priorities, and making decisions and problem solving,” the report said.Jaime S. Fall, a vice president at the HR Policy Association, an organization of chief human resources managers from large employers, said these findings backed up what his organization was hearing over and over from employers.Young employees “are very good at finding information, but not as good at putting that information into context,” Mr. Fall said. “They’re really good at technology, but not at how to take those skills and resolve specific business problems.”This isn’t a dilemma just in this country, but around the world, Ms. Swan said. A global study conducted last year of interviews with 25,000 employers found that nine out of 10 employees believed that colleges were not fully preparing students for the workplace.“There were the same problems,” she said. “Problems with collaboration, interpersonal skills, the ability to deal with ambiguity, flexibility and professionalism.”
Replacing the reading of fiction (which helps students to deal with ambiguity, uncertainty and areas of grey in life) with non-fiction, promoting standardized rubrics and grading rules all across the curriculum (as is happening in many schools), replacing most personal response writing and assignments in the ELA classroom with argumentative and informational writing based only upon close textual readings - I'm sure that's going to help students learn collaboration skills, interpersonal skills, the ability to deal with ambiguity, and flexibility.
Oh, wait - no, it probably won't.
Common Core reform will exacerbate these problems.
ELA Common Core developer David Coleman famously said "No one gives a shit what your kids think or feel about anything..." and he proceeded to develop English Language Arts standards that put that particular value into practice.
But if you want kids to grow up to be employees who are flexible, can deal with ambiguity, can work well with others and can adapt to change, you have to help students to deal with their emotions.
This means actually caring about what kids think or feel about things.
That means having assignments and lessons where kids can explore their feelings about personal issues, societal issues, cultural issues and a host of other things.
Too bad David Coleman and the other developers of the Core either didn't know or didn't care about this kind of thing.
Next year we were told there should be very little text to self response in the ELA classroom if teachers want to be rated "effective."
Everything in the ELA classroom must now revolve around close readings of difficult texts, argumentative and informational writing around those texts, and tests that will assess those kinds of skills through the use of standardized rubrics and grading criteria.
You can bet this will not help kids to grow into adults who are flexible, can deal with ambiguity, can work well with others and can adapt to change.