As students learn and grow, character and soft skills development affects how they perform at their job in adulthood. Work-ready skills help students develop values such as respect, justice, citizenship, and responsibility (Character Education… Our Shared Responsibility). Benjamin Franklin once said, “Nothing is of more importance for the public weal, than to form and train up youth in wisdom and virtue.” By starting character and soft skills development programs, citizens become active and engaged in strengthening their community.
Students also gain soft skills such as communication, teamwork, and problem-solving. Soft skills are necessary to perform well in careers. One study shows that 86.6% of business leaders believe communication is an important soft skill for their company, and 60% believe the ability to work with others is necessary for success (Truang, Laura, Shaw, 2016, pg. 1851). These soft skills are developed through character education programs, as students collaborate in the classroom and find solutions to everyday problems.
Work-ready skills not only prepare individuals for future careers, but also help their academic and behavioral performance during school. Oregon State University’s study based on the Positive Action program, which uses lessons and activities to educate about relationships and actions, showed 10% improvement of students’ scores on national standardized math and reading tests. In addition, suspensions and absences dropped 70% and 10% respectively (What Works). Programs such as Positive Action are school-sponsored, but require participation from teachers, parents, and students in order for the program to work effectively.
According to business development leaders, the current workforce is deficient in character education and soft skills (Loup, Kornegay, and Morgan, 2017, pg. 16). These programs help students develop values and work ethics which would reduce this deficiency. Implementing work-ready skills in elementary and middle school allows students to build a foundation of character which prepares them to enter a career path with strong work ethics.
Character Education… Our Shared Responsibility. (May 31, 2005). U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from https://www2.ed.gov/admins/lead/character/brochure.html
Loup, C., Kornegay, J., and Morgan, J. (January 2017). Career Exploration and Soft Skills: Preparing Students for Success. Association for Career & Technical Education
Ohler, J. (February 2011). Character Education for the Digital Age. ASCD, 68 (5). Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/feb11/vol68/num05/Character-Education-for-the-Digital-Age.aspx
Truang, H., Laura, R., and Shaw, K. (2016). New Insights for Soft Skills Development in Vietnamese Business Schools: Defining Essential Soften Skills for Maximizing Graduates’ Career Success. World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology 10 (6). Retrieved from https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/bed0/d44b48cf67e3ce086f271ae6690d66a1e7bf.pdf
What Works. Character.org. Retrieved from http://character.org/key-topics/what-is-character-education/what-works/