Workplace Student Skills

Aug 6, 2017 by

What skills do today’s students need in the workplace? Here’s an A list.

How can a school leader prepare students for the world of work and its challenges?  Every principal has a great responsibility, they are preparing children for life after school and their career.  The world is changing fast due to technology and globalization. The skills that once helped a student to progress and to fulfill their potential are often no longer relevant, because of the remarkable social and economic transformations of recent years.

A school leader needs to prepare students for a world that is full of new opportunities but challenges them to succeed at every turn.  Every school leader needs to be goal-orientated and their goals should be to give students the skills that they need. The curriculum should be used in ways that enable children to acquire these new capacities and surpass competency levels. Schooling teaching practices need to be informed by the goal of guiding students to develop and acquire these ever changing proficiencies.   A series of assessments should to be introduced to monitor the students acquisition of these critical skills. This is essential because companies and organizations do not offer the supports or training that is needed to acquire these skills. They expect graduates to already possess them.

The World Economic Forum (2017) lays it out in a 78-page document replete with statistical analytics, “By one popular estimate, 65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t yet exist.” Furthermore, jobs of today will look drastically different in the workplace due to technological transformations, changing demographics, and globalization. Below are, a list of skills that are essential for every student and which should to be taught in every school at every level.

Technology Training

Whether you know it or not, the lives of people, students in schools as well, are being consumed by technology. Teach students to code. In today’s job market that is the indisputable number one skill that every student needs. Simon Peyton Jones’  TED talk is highly recommended for a video explanation. Where he explains that teaching computer programming is about teaching broader thinking skills through abstract concepts, modeling, and design.

As a matter of fact, all jobs “across all industries are expected to require complex problem-solving as one of their core skills”, this is according to the same World Economic Forum report (2017). A school leader needs to sustain and establish programs that encourage students to acquire the ability to use a myriad of software. Computer classes need to quickly move beyond just teaching Microsoft Office.

Writing for Life

The ability to produce professional reports and other documents is still one of the most relevant skills today. Students need to have the ability to produce well-written and researched reports. This is a basic requirement for many businesses and students need to have writing and editing skills before they graduate. This means that they can write in a clear and grammatically correct English and have skills such as the ability to create and give a presentation. Students with strong writing skills earn more in the workplace.

Social Skills

This is known as ‘soft skills’ they are the ability to work with and interact with others in a variety of environments.  May companies and organizations demand and expect strong interpersonal communication skills from graduates. Students need to have the ability to work with others as a team, understand others’ views and why that perspective is important.  Team work is now more crucial than ever in the economy and it is highly valued by prospective employers. They will need to be able to relate to people and understand their concerns. Students need to have the ability to express themselves clearly and in ways that are understandable.

Work Experience

Get that internship going. Students more than ever before need real life, hands on experience. Work experience is very important to many employers before they hire the person. What is it about you that lets me know that you will be successful here in corporate life? School leaders need to be provide their students with the ability to acquire some real-life experience in the workplace or an organizational setting. It is now regarded essential that a student needs the ability to translate what they have learned into practice. Students can acquire new skills in the workplace that are not available in the classroom. This experience needs to be aligned with their academic studies. Almost every single department at the university level has an internship component. Schools need to have a practical component at the end of every level of schooling. There are an insurmountable amount of non-profit organizations that are looking for help all of the time with internships for high school students.

Cross Cultural Skills

It is a given, we are in an increasingly globally connected world. We are now residing in a forever diversifying global world. The sooner we understand that the better we can serve our student population. The world is becoming increasingly diverse.  It is essential that students can work and communicate with those who are from different backgrounds and cultures.  Students need to understand different cultures and have the ability to work with them as part of a team.  They need to have the knowledge to understand how different values influence a person’s outlook and how this needs to be understood if people are to work together on common goals.

Organizational Skills

It is more than having students write their homework down in that calendar of a planner. These are skills that has long been taught in the classroom and it is one that is very relevant to the world of work in the 21st century.  Students need the ability and knowledge to plan and organize resources and people to attain some goals or meet some objective. They need to have the ability to schedule and prioritize. This is not only crucial for management positions but every role that they take on. Students will need to know how to organize and manage projects and programs. The ability to create some kind of a systematic approach to achievement of goals and targets is essential. Analytical skills should be taught to students to help improve their organizational abilities.


It is essential that students are encouraged to be creative, as this is demanded by many prospective employers. They will need to be able to work on their own initiatives and to be able to take a new approach to issues. They need to be able to apply their knowledge in creative ways so that they can be more productive. Students more than ever need to learn how to be problem solvers and to be creative when it comes to solutions. Creativity leads to innovation and this country is built on welcoming and harnessing great ideas. Unleash students potential today by preparing them for a brighter tomorrow.

Comment Below on how are these skills being taught in your school district? In your estimation how effectively are they being taught?

Keywords: 21st Century Skills, coding, technology training, school leadership, internship



Crockett, William (2017). The Critical 21st Century Skills Every Student Needs and Why Retrieved from:

Doyle, Allison (2016). Top Skills Employers Seek in College Grads. The Balance. Retrieved from:

Govind (2017) Top 10 Skills Every New Graduate Needs. Retrieved from:

Nagin, Carl. (2006). Because Writing Matters: Improving Student Writing in Our Schools. New York: John Wiley & Sons. Book can be purchased by the National Writing Project here:

Peyton, Simon. (2014).  Teaching creative computer science: Simon Peyton Jones at TEDxExeter. London: TedX. Retrieved from:

Schinkten, Oliver (2017). 10 Skills All Students Need to Be Successful. LinkedIn. Retrieved from:

Shapiro, L. (2004). 101 Ways to teach children social skills. Washington, D.C.: Bureau of At Risk Youth. Retrieved from:

Walker, Sherrelle. (2012). 5 Reasons Why Your Students Should Write Every Day. Retrieved from:

World Economic Forum. (2017). The Global Risks Report, 12th Edition. Geneva, Switzerland: World Economic Forum. Retrieved from:

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