Educating well-rounded students for future careers

New industries and careers are developing every day. With changing workforce needs, Arizona high schools must prepare students for jobs that may not even exist yet.

So how do they do it?

Tucson Principal Dennis Barger calls it “soft skills.”

“We want to make learning practical. Let’s face it. We are in the business world, so understanding how to work with an employer is crucial,” said Barger, who has led Vail Academy & High School for over a decade.

The K-12 campus, which is housed within the UA Tech Park, requires students to graduate with two years of career and technical education. The majority of students take business courses, learning public speaking and job interview skills, how to create resumes, and less tangible skills such as having a positive attitude, being dependable and working well under pressure.

“It’s just a big part of the culture of our school,” Barger said. “We believe learning the skills of business and those related to business are just practical life skills that can translate into a job and your life.”

Industry leaders agree.

Companies want to know work history and hard skills associated with the job, but 63 percent of employers said “soft skills” are among the top qualities they look for in candidates, according to a 2016 survey by CareerBuilder.

Carlos Ruiz, President and CEO of HT Metals, a Tucson-based distributor of custom cut metals, said while he needs all of his employees to excel in math, he also needs to ensure all six of his employees are excellent communicators with customers, and with each other.

“We’re so small that the ability to communicate with each other is very important. At some point, all of our employees all talk to our customers, too,” said Ruiz, who also sits on the Tanque Verde Unified School District governing board. “Educators are starting to realize that they need to build well rounded students. (Soft skills) are not just about showing up on time. We need to graduate students with the lifelong skills to be successful.”

Megan Gilbertson

1 comment

Subscribe to the Dry Heat

Get updates on the most important news delivered right to your email. Fully personalized options. No SPAM. Unsubscribe anytime.

Sign Me Up!

Let’s Get Social

Chamber Business News wants to connect with you. Follow us, tweet, share, post, comment... however you get social is the perfect way to connect.