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Thursday, July 9, 2020

Of skill based learning and soft skills

Of skill based learning And soft skills
Satwant Palekar
We desperately need skill-based education to prepare our country for the future. Management education is a responsibility in this direction, stated Kiran Mazumdar Shaw.

What does a good education give you? A store of useful facts needed for navigating the world of work and get a handsome package or a set of flexible skills to manage change in future and get acquainted with changes susceptible in future. Educationalists and politicians argue to and fro between knowledge and skills. Truth be told, a good education gives you both: one (knowledge) giving the other (skills) contexts to develop. learning and soft skills learning and soft skills learning and soft skills 

Research indicates that teaching and assessing students or any individual is much effective than listening to a lecture based teaching. If this is true then it’s a good rationale for skills based learning: teaching and assessing one another needs planning, group work, creativity, enquiry, evaluation and self-confidence.

At schools we need to emphasize on Skill-based training which is going to be the backbone of the Make-in-India initiative too and the best way to ensure that vocational training serves its intended purpose is through PPP i.e., Public-private partnership. For instance, Aptech would attempt to train more than 2.33 million people nationwide over a period of 10 years in sectors such as banking, financial services, insurance, entertainment, organised retail and many more.

Given the sheer size of our 500 million plus workforce, India can be the driving force behind a global skills-based economy. One challenge that is repeatedly tabled at every industry/employer forum is the acute shortage of skilled workers that the Indian industry is facing. Skills based learning at schools helps in developing and applying specific skills that can then be used to obtain the required knowledge. The classroom environment will encourage independence, as well as combining active-learning and collaboration to help the children retain the knowledge. This process allows the students to ‘access, process and then express’ the knowledge they have learnt rather than simply writing it down.

Skill-based education is most appropriate from Class VIII onward. It could even begin earlier to prevent school dropouts. Vocational training in schools helps push up student’s interest, attendance rates and encourage deeper participation from students. It can empower our huge, unemployed labour force and help India emerge as key contributor to a global skills based economy enriching itself in the bargain.

While a strong skill based education in how to do something specific – in teaching or engineering, in plumbing or computer science – goes a long way towards supporting students’ employability, there’s been a recent burst of awareness for just how important so-called ‘soft skills’ are for success as well. Incorporating soft skills into your curriculum will give your students an advantage in completing their education. Additionally, they will be better prepared to meet workplace expectations, increasing their confidence as they embark on careers. These less tangible traits fall under many titles: Soft skills, non-cognitive skills, employability skills, character, social and emotional learning, 21st Century learning, and more.

Soft skills prepare students for employment

Part of the value of soft skills lies in their flexibility: they may be shaped well into adulthood, providing students with second (and third, and fourth) chances to succeed in school and work, even after their cognitive skills have been more firmly set. If schools were to actively foster students’ soft skill development, students would likely advance in their careers more quickly.

Methods to strengthen students’ soft skills

Inspire curiosity:  Make it okay to say “I don’t know” within a classroom, and admit when you as a teacher don’t know an answer. Provide just a bit of information on something new to spark deeper interest. Introduce contradictions and ask students how we might understand them. Ask open-ended questions.

Cultivate grit: Ask students to reflect on challenges they’ve overcome on their own path to achievement, and share the gritty path to success others have taken, as the obstacles others have overcome often go unseen.

Encourage optimism:  Be mindful when giving negative feedback, redirect students towards positive behaviours, and help students to keep their own focus toward the positive.

Provide real-world work experience:  Experience on the job such as apprenticeships, job shadowing, and volunteer roles give students a chance to learn from mentors; see and emulate career-relevant skills including timeliness, self-presentation, social awareness, and cooperation; and help build networks to draw on for future roles.

Teach teamwork: Assign students to groups in which every student has a role (e.g., director, presenter, and scribe). This requires each student to be independently responsible while also depending on team members to carry out their roles well. Teaching teamwork in this way is part of interventions like Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL), which serve to teach collaboration and written communication.

Tips to Teachers: Add soft skill goals to lesson plans

Often when designing lessons, teachers are keen on identifying and communicating cognitive skill goals to students. We should be equally deliberate with non-cognitive skills and consider incorporating student self-assessment into lessons. While a student can readily measure their cognitive gains in pre and post-testing, they do not always take time to reflect on their own work, be it successes or challenges, in specific non-cognitive skills.

Soft skills will give students an advantage in completing their education, prepare them to meet workplace expectations and increase their confidence as they embark on careers

Having students judge their own grit and persistence or highlight an area where they exercised effective failure helps them understand that resilience is potentially more important than memorizing the state capitals. Deliberately adding reflection on soft-skill challenges and growth to lesson design helps students add goal-setting and self-reflection to their educational experience and helps prepare them for long-term success.

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