Employers often talk about “soft skills” or, more accurately, professional skills that high school graduates need in order to be successful.
Put simply, they need to demonstrate maturity, responsibility, and the ability to succeed in a business setting. And, as importantly, they have to show potential employers that they’ve developed those skills.
The administrators at Laurel Oaks Career Campus in Wilmington created a way to give employers that information: the Professional Skills Score report. This tool, spearheaded by assistant dean of instruction Mike Hart, builds an objective scoring structure and reports.
“The program just started in spring 2017, but we have received a very positive response from students and employers,” Hart said. “The system was designed for students to be able to show their professional skills to employers, but it was also meant to build their skills over the course of two years with us.”
This quarterly report motivates students to think about the skills and habits that aren’t always on the job description — attendance, behavior incidents, timeliness, ability to work with others, and more.
“We wanted to motivate all students to make incremental changes in one or more areas each quarter to improve their personal professional skills. Seeing a grade for these types of skills and behaviors gives them a weight that they may not otherwise have, thus increasing students’ performance in these areas,” Hart said.
The Laurel Oaks program was honored by the Ohio School Boards Association on Oct. 12 as a best program for 2017.
The Professional Skills Scoring System gives students an additional competitive advantage when they complete their program and move on to further training or launch their career. Their personal Professional Skills Report is designed to be included on postsecondary education applications and in resumes as a simple and efficient way for admissions offices and employers to gain a sense of the student’s professional capabilities, character and work ethic.
“The simple snapshot serves as an indicator for employers of the type of employee they can expect based on historical data. It moves them [the student] to the top of the stack,” Hart said.
In addition, as part of this program students can voluntarily submit to random drug testing. Their results appear on their Professional Skills Score Report in a “Clean for my Career” section to demonstrate to future employers their commitment to a drug-free lifestyle. In today’s workplace, drug-free job applicants will have an automatic advantage that sets them apart.
“We feel that if our students can present proof of completing a year or two-year drug testing program to a potential employer, that moves them to the top of the stack of candidates,” said Laurel Oaks Dean Kevin Abt.
This year, 163 students have signed on to the voluntary program.
“It’s sometimes hard for students to step up and be a part of a program that often goes against social pressure, so to have over 160 students participating is amazing.” Abt said.
Submitted by Jon Weidlich, community relations director, Great Oaks Career Campuses.