Your students already know the career industry they want to pursue - after all, that's why they came to you. But how well does the classroom prepare adult learners and recent high school grads for post-college success? According to USA Today, fewer than two in five hiring managers who had interviewed recent graduates in the past two years found them prepared for a job in their field of study.1

Career colleges provide students with a tailored education to fit specific career aspirations, but acquiring the necessary skills for a specific trade is only one piece of the puzzle. It's important for students to understand that a degree is only a minimum qualification for workforce success. How can educators properly prepare students for life after college? Consider these out-of-the-textbook skills employers seek from college grads.

Leadership and Teamwork

Regardless of the field of study, preparing for the workforce means preparing for a collaborative environment. Unlike most school settings, where solo tasks are more prevalent, work environments call for the ability to work with others.

To help students acquire leadership and teamwork skills, consider implementing ongoing team projects throughout the semester. Have students change teams each quarter and assign a different leadership position to each student every time, so all students can experience different roles.

Effective Communication

Good communication skills are imperative for acing an interview and succeeding in the workforce. A student's qualifications might quickly be overlooked without the basics of professional conduct. Expose your students to as many professional settings as possible.

  • Invite potential employers to join the classroom as a guest speakers. Encourage two-way discussion by asking each student to prepare a set of questions prior to the guest speaker's presentation.
  • Communicate with students via email to gauge their communication style and use this as a learning opportunity.
  • Welcome former students to the classroom as a networking opportunity for current students.
  • Help students become comfortable in group settings by incorporating public speaking opportunities within the classroom.

Early Guidance

Has your career college implemented a high school completion program for students who want to enroll but lack a high school diploma? If yes, it's imperative you stress both college and career readiness to these students. Many were likely failed by the standard curriculums of a traditional school setting. Your high school completion program should work closely with your admissions team to ensure your school's curriculum is the best fit for the long-term success of both your school and its students.

Too many students are graduating from college unprepared for the workforce. To land a job, employers seek more than skills competency; recent graduates need to prove professionalism in the workplace. To gain these skills, educators must equip students with more than a degree. Ensure part of your career training includes the aforementioned tips that help instill the professional knowledge students need to get out in the working world with confidence.

Recommended for you: Career Colleges: Focusing on Student Outcomes Equals Success For All

Resources cited:(1) Degree alone not enough to prepare grads for workforce
Other resources: (2) Five Ways to Better Prepare Students for Careers (3) How to Prepare Students for 21st Century Survival