Durable Skills

Student Engagement and Career Preparation in K-12 Education – Webinar Recap

Building on the “Bridging the Gap” case study, America Succeeds and Skillsline co-hosted a three-part webinar series in the fall of 2023. This blog outlines key takeaways from the second webinar, Student Engagement and Career Preparation in K-12 Education. Check out additional conversations from this series on Durable Skills in the future.

Our second webinar was led by Eric Lerum, Senior Advisor at America Succeeds, Thaddeus Sands, Program Manager at the Louisiana Department of Education, and Andy Allen, Principal of Batesville High School, who shed light on the critical role Durable Skills play in preparing students to thrive in an evolving postsecondary landscape.

Durable Skills, often referred to as “soft skills”, are a vital component of education in today’s dynamic world. A focus on developing these competencies throughout the K-12 experience empowers students with a suite of skills in high demand among employers that allow them to excel in personal and career endeavors. The leaders of this webinar brought their unique expertise and experience to this enlightening conversation. 

Thaddeus Sands discussed the significance of offering tailored support and guidance to students who haven’t had those experiences in education before, “It’s all about giving students those experiences that will change their lives. We know that if we change one life, that life will change somebody else’s life.”

Andy Allen emphasized the importance of ensuring relevance of learning experiences to the students lives and communities, “I think that over time the kids are more likely to complete stuff to the very best of their ability when they find relevance in the work that they’re doing … What Skillsline has been able to do in our focus on durable skills is trying to provide [a link between the Durable Skills being taught and the practical use of these skills in the classroom, in work-based learning settings, and when working in teams].”

Eric Lerum added “Building durable skills is about developing students who are not only academically proficient but who are also able to work with others, adapt to changing circumstances, and communicate effectively in a wide range of contexts.”

Check out the full “Implementing Durable Skills Education in K-12 Systems” webinar in the video below. 

Here are some of the key takeaways of the webinar:

  • Durable Skills equip individuals to thrive in all aspects of life. Cultivating these skills in students and supporting the students in applying them enables personal and professional success. 
  • The focus on applying Durable Skills should remain relevant. Encouraging students to see the practical value of the skills can motivate them to engage more deeply in the K-12 experience and develop the skills further. 
  • Experiential learning is key. One of the most effective ways to help students develop Durable Skills is through practical, real-world experiences. Work-based learning programs, internships, and community service projects provide great opportunities for students to apply and enhance these skills. 
  • Data matters. Assessing Durable Skills through observation and data collection, is essential for tracking progress and understanding the value that these competencies bring to students’ lives. Following up after students graduate helps to understand the immediate impact of teaching these skills.
  • Building students’ confidence in their Durable Skills is a critical aspect of education. Giving students the opportunity to showcase their mastery of skills through real-world situations reinforced belief in their abilities. 

Overall, the “Implementing Systems for Developing Durable Skills at Work” webinar highlighted the enduring importance of this skill set for personal and professional growth. A shared commitment to teaching, practicing and reinforcing these skills ensures access to fulfilling opportunities while mutually benefiting individuals, employers, and society. 

Make sure to register for the final conversation in the “Durable Skills: The Enduring Human Advantage” webinar series here – Durable Skills in the future on November 8th at 11 am MT. 

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