Ball State University says it’s training faculty on how to teach soft skills in classrooms. As IPR’s Stephanie Wiechmann reports, it’s these skills that employers say are lacking in job candidates.
Some “soft skills” are easy to describe, like showing up for work on time consistently and dressing appropriately. Others are broader concepts.
“Critical thinking and problem solving, oral and written communication, teamwork and collaboration, digital technology…”
That’s Jim McAtee, Director of Ball State’s Career Center. He’s running what the Muncie university calls a skills infusion program. It started as a pilot funded by extra grant money in the spring of 2018.
It teaches faculty members the soft skills employers are looking for and figures out how to incorporate them into all sorts of classes, using language that lets students know they’re learning these things.
McAtee says the program is bringing together faculty that he says wouldn’t normally mix.
“Just the other day, I had a meeting where we had an English faculty member, a screenwriter, someone in Biology, and an electrical engineer. And they were all speaking common language in trying to figure out how to map these workplace competencies to their curriculum.”
For now, the training pairs a faculty member with a Ball State alumnus and a Career Center representative. That’s why only 28 faculty members have completed it. The university says the next step is to figure out how to give that same training in workshop form, to reach more faculty.
Indiana lawmakers are also concerned about soft skills. They passed a bill last year that will create standards for soft skills lessons to be taught in K-12 Hoosier schools.