The elusive "21st Century skills” is one of the latest trends in workforce development, which has simultaneously captivated the attention of employers while mystifying workforce educators on how to empower students with these valuable skills. To better understand these essential work skills and prepare community college educators to train students, NACCE is proud to partner with the New World of Work at Feather River College and the Foundation of California Community Colleges with financial support from the California Community College Chancellor’s Office Doing What Matters initiative. Amy Schulz, NACCE Vice President of Membership, and Rajinder Gill, New World of Work Director of 21st Century Work Skills, facilitated a 2-day train-the-trainer event and a 1-day digital badging skills panel for 21st Century Skills August 5 through 7, 2015. California Community Colleges Vice Chancellor of Workforce Development Van Ton-Quinlivan welcomed attendees and urged them on how important this work is to fill the workforce skills gap in California and beyond.
This training and panel was the culmination of a two-year project to identify and develop curriculum and pedagogy for 21st Century Work Skills. Schulz and Gill began the work in 2013 under the auspices of entrepreneurial skills and quickly realized that these were transferrable skills necessary across all sectors and gained through practice in the workplace. This year under Gill’s direction, New World of Work was selected to implement this training in 10 pilot colleges throughout California. Each college will embed the 21st Century Work Skills training within a work-based learning program so that students will have the opportunity to practice the skills in the workplace. Classroom time is reserved for introduction of skills and reflection of students own aptitude and goals. About the same time that New World of Work was awarded the statewide pilot, Schulz was joined NACCE as Vice President of Membership.
Schulz explained, "It is truly an honor to continue the New World of Work project through the lens of NACCE and the needs of our national membership. The original project was to translate what entrepreneurs need to be successful, and what we found were these were skills that most everyone will need be successful in the modern workforce. In addition, these skills or traits align with what employers have been demanding.” Because the curriculum was co-created with the public funds of the Doing What Matters initiative, it is open source and available at New World of Work website for anyone to use. The train-the-trainer instruction provides an in-depth context and pedagogy.
Representatives from the 10 pilot colleges learned how the rapid changes in work, such as technological advances and a globally competitive workforce, has impacted workforce skills development. After two days of intensive training, the educators received New World of Work train-the-trainer certifications in order to empower other educators, as well as students, on their home campuses.
The next step of the project is to develop digital badges so that employers can recognize students with vetted 21st Century Work Skills. On August 7, fifteen industry representatives gathered to help identify observable behaviors of 21st Century Work Skills in the workplace. For instance, an observable behavior of resilience is quickly adjusting to change in a project deadline. By the end of the day, these professionals had provided an extensive list of demonstrations of the skills, which will be provided to an assessment expert to translate into 21st Century Work Skills competencies. Those results will then serve as the foundation for the digital badging project to be housed on the LaunchPath platform.
For more information about the project, please contact Rajinder Gill at firstname.lastname@example.org.