According to recent reports, modern employers are avidly searching for potential employees with a specific set of skills that may not be acquired from a typical college classroom. Innovative initiates, including Dr. Noah Minskoff’s Bench to Bedside program and progressive Canadian middle school curriculums, are encouraging students to broaden their horizons and diversify their skills before they graduate.
According to 2013 research from the Association of American Colleges and Universities, employers believe that the challenges faced by new hires are more demanding than ever before. As a result, “employers today are highly focused on innovation and are giving priority to hiring employees who can help [their] cause,” notes the report.
95% of surveyed employers reported that their firms are placing a priority on hiring new employees who have “the intellectual and interpersonal skills that will help them contribute to innovation in the workplace.” According to the report, employers are primarily seeking candidates with critical thinking skills, developed communication skills, and the ability to solve complex professional problems.
While most surveyed employers agree that universities are equipping their graduates with the skills they need to succeed in an entry-level position, they warn that most graduates may not be equipped with the skill set required to advance their careers beyond an initial position.
Below, experts offer a few tips for parents who wants to equip their children with the skills they’ll need to not only land but advance in a particular position.
Some Canadian schools are encouraging young people to begin developing their entrepreneurial skills even before they pursue higher education. Middle schools and high schools are bringing in guest speakers to inspire young people to pursue entrepreneurship, and are even working entrepreneurial activities into their curriculums directly.
One establishment, Middle River Consolidated School, teaches children aged 5 to 12 about entrepreneurship by allowing them to run their own annual produce market. The students learn to make business decisions as a team and manage ‘company’ finances.
At Allan A. Martin Senior Public School, students have the option to follow an educational track that is based on technology, international business, and entrepreneurial studies.
David Valliere, who is the chair of the entrepreneurship and strategy department at Ted Rogers School of Management, believes that the importance of entrepreneurial skills in the modern workplace shouldn’t be overlooked. “It’s important to everybody, even for people who aren’t interested in running their own business,” says Valliere. “Given how the economy has changed, and the uncertainty of the job market, entrepreneurship is something we should be teaching at an early age.”
Infuse Education With Real-World Relevancy
College students do not always receive an opportunity to practice the skills they learn before they graduate and enter the workforce. Dr. Noah Minskoff, founder of the Bench to Bedside program at the University of Utah, believes that students can infuse their educations with real-world relevancy for better professional prospects.
Students who participate in Bench to Bedside are divided into ‘start-up’ companies and are asked to identify a need that has not yet been addressed by modern clinical research. The teams are given six months and a $500 budget to research the issue, evaluate potential solutions, and develop a workable business plan. An annual awards ceremony gives the top teams $70,000 in funding that is aimed at kick-starting real-world development of the students’ Bench to Bedside innovations.
Dr. Minskoff notes that the program provides more than just elementary business experience. “What’s novel about the program is how it creates a collaborative team between students with really different educational and personal backgrounds,” says Dr. Minskoff. “It creates a synergistic overlap so they can all bring their experiences together to develop technologies that can really have an impact on the lives of patients and on our healthcare ecosystem.”
Dr. Minskoff believes that most students are typically not encouraged to seek out a cross-disciplinary education. “Medical students are not taught anything about business or engineering,” he says, “and business students have very little exposure to the metrics that drive real-world healthcare decisions. But in order to solve many of the most critical issues in medicine, all of these disciplines must be able to collaborate and contribute so that they can successfully bring innovative technologies to market.”
In recent years, the Bench to Bedside program has attracted the participation of almost half of all first- and second-year medical students at the University of Utah.
Encourage A Well-Rounded Education
If your son or daughter is currently pursuing higher education, consider encouraging enrollment in courses that will help to enhance real-world learning, recommends Melinda Boisjolie of the National Association for College Admission Counseling. “Along with learning how to save and invest, try to take an economics course,” says Boisjolie. “Flexibility is another key skill for college students, for the culture is always changing [and] impacting the business model and corporate culture.”
Boisjolie also recommends pointing children towards classes that will enhance communication skills. “Classes focusing on negotiation, management, and interpersonal skills are a good idea to look into regardless of your major curriculum.”
Giving Young People the Edge They Need to Go Further
According to the Global Entrepreneurship Research Association, modern young people are more than three times more likely than their adult counterparts to be unable to find a job. The Association notes that most global societies fail to adequately encourage young people to expand their professional strengths.
As a parent, you may have an opportunity to encourage the development of essential job skills in your children, whether they are middle school students or university attendees. It’s never too early or too late to teach your kids about entrepreneurship, communication, and critical thinking, skills that will likely enhance the possibility of advancement in their future careers.
Dr. Noah Minskoff’s Bench to Bedside initiative and early-level Canadian entrepreneurship courses provide new ways for students to sharpen their business acumen and collaboration skills in preparation for real-world professional applications.