Employability Skills Increase Career Readiness and Workforce Success

03.28.2024 | Credentialing

Employability skills play a vital role in preparing secondary and postsecondary students for a successful career in the 21st century. In the world of career and technical education (CTE) learners must grasp not only the technical aspects of their chosen career but also possess foundational skills such as communication, critical thinking, and collaboration.

Let’s explore employability skills, why they are important, the current skills gap, and how NOCTI credentials can help increase career readiness and workforce success.

What Are Employability Skills and Why Are They Important in CTE Instruction?

Employability skills constitute essential knowledge and skills crucial for workplace success. Unlike industry-specific skills such as welding or programming a cobot, employability skills are transferable across various jobs. These skills help individuals navigate the work environment, collaborate with others, communicate effectively, and achieve their career goals. Employability skills may also be referred to as durable or soft skills.

Two decades ago, the concept of employability was vague at best. As technology progressed and the workplace became more complex, educators and employers recognized the need to define the modern skills workers need to be successful. The U.S. Department of Education developed the Employability Skills Framework to create alignment among policymakers, educators, and employers. This framework is divided into three major areas with specific skill sets under each one.

Applied Knowledge

  • Applied Academic Skills
  • Critical Thinking Skills

Effective Relationships

  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Personal Qualities

Workplace Skills

  • Resource Management
  • Information Use
  • Communication Skills
  • Systems Thinking
  • Technology Use

A hallmark of CTE instruction is preparing students for their chosen careers, which makes employability skills a natural fit for CTE programs. These transferable skills have value across all industries and career fields and studies have correlated employability skills with better hiring rates, success on the job, and higher earnings.

The Employability Skills Gap

Employability skills also create value for employers. A candidate possessing critical thinking and communication skills is more likely to be a well-rounded employee, contributing to the organization’s success.

In November 2023, a study examined research spanning the last decade to compile a list of the essential employability skills desired by employers from recent graduates. These skills include:

  • Problem-Solving
  • Communication
  • Teamwork
  • Adaptability
  • Willingness to Learn
  • Analytical and Critical Thinking
  • Integrity
  • Creativity and Initiative
  • Information and Communication Technology Skills
  • Interpersonal Skills

Unfortunately, studies reveal a disparity between the skills employers need and those possessed by workers. Numerous secondary and postsecondary students are graduating without the market-driven employability skills essential for success in the future workforce.

NOCTI’s Employability Credentials Prepare Students for Success

CTE serves as a natural bridge between education and industry. CTE programs play a crucial role in workforce preparation, equipping students with job-ready skills and enabling employers to confidently hire candidates with the skills to be successful in the workplace.

Valid and reliable credentials strengthen the link between learners and employers. A credential showcases a learner’s competence and provides tangible evidence of their mastery of a specific set of skills, enhancing their marketability.

NOCTI has developed employability credentials to help validate students have the skills to be successful in a modern workplace. Like all NOCTI credentials, these were developed with panels of subject matter experts and industry professionals to ensure they are relevant and accurately measure critical skills.

Available employability credentials:

Customized Credentials Meet Unique Needs

NOCTI can also customize credentials to address the specific needs of states and organizations. The NOCTI team worked with the Junior Reserve Officer’s Training Corps (JROTC) stakeholders to create the JROTC Leadership and Employability Skills assessment which leads to a credential for employability and leadership skills that are foundational to all military branches. The credential aligns with the core JROTC tenants instilled across all branches of the military and includes:

  • Team Collaboration
  • Interpersonal Skills/Communication
  • Ethics, Integrity, and Respect
  • Decision Making, Critical Thinking, and Planning
  • Management, Mentorship, and Performance Review
  • Leadership
  • Government, Civic Duty, and Citizenship
  • Career and Self-Discovery

Since its launch in 2021, the credential has received an overwhelmingly positive response from the NOCTI and JROTC communities, demonstrating the value of assessments designed around specific program needs.

Have questions about NOCTI employability credentials or customized assessments? The NOCTI team is here to answer your questions and provide the resources to help equip students with the skills for their chosen careers. Reach out anytime through our website.