New graduates might have a diploma, but that doesn’t necessarily mean organizations think they’re “career ready.” According to data from two National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) surveys, there are significant gaps between what competencies students considered themselves proficient in and how employers rated them. Soft skills made up a good portion of the list, but two in particular — work ethic and communication — showed the biggest disparities.
For the sake of this blog, we’re going to focus on communication, but that is not meant to diminish the importance of work ethic in any way. Work ethic certainly influences career success, but it’s more difficult to address this principle in a formal way. With communication, however, there are direct actions instructors and coaches can take at every level to improve this skill.
The communication gap within the workplace needs to be addressed, but development must start much earlier on. No matter what career someone pursues, they must be able to communicate their ideas clearly and concisely. Graduating with oral, written, and active listening skills can give students a head start in their chosen career. Here are four ways to help students develop their communication skills while they’re still in school:
Communication might be the most important soft skill, but it takes repetition and real-life practice to master. Having individuals rehearse some of the basic fundamentals of communication, such as eye contact, listening, and tone of voice, can help them appear more confident in an interview or a work presentation.
A student can have all the technical skills in the world, but if they cannot communicate their thoughts in a clear and concise manner, they will not be as effective of an employee. Putting individuals through real-life scenarios in the classroom helps them learn how to interpret ideas and express themselves more effectively down the line.
Group projects are one of the most common ways instructors promote communication in the classroom. These collaborative exercises help instructors create real-world environments where students communicate with their peers as they push toward a common goal. Learning how to analyze situations and solve problems with other team members are both crucial to career success. These interactions enable learners to practice different forms of communication, such as providing feedback, listening actively, and reading body language.
When learners review each other’s work and provide feedback, it helps improve their communication skills. This activity happens regularly in the real world, so it’s important for students to learn how to give and receive constructive criticism. Peer review also exposes individuals to multiple perspectives, so they must learn how to articulate their thoughts clearly and interpret the ideas they get back in return. Without peer review in the classroom, it’s difficult for students to build these skills before entering the workplace.
Self-assessment gives learners the chance to self-critique their work before submitting. For example, when students make a video presentation, this activity allows them to reflect on how they come across in terms of body language, tone of voice, and their overall message. Most people are their own harshest critics, so when given an opportunity to review their presentation, they can improve on their communication skills for that assignment and on future ones.
With communication being the most important soft skill, it makes sense to start developing it in the classroom. Bongo lets instructors create real-world scenarios where learners can improve communication and other soft skills in a structured environment. Learn more about how Bongo facilitates soft skill development by visiting our website.
If you are interested in learning more about soft skills, download our whitepaper here.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]