Volume 31, No. 1: Employability Skills
Welcome to Vol. 31, No. 1, of Connections, the newsletter of the National Career Pathways Network. In this issue, we provide timely information on skills important for workplace success in any sector.
Infusing Necessary Skills into CTE-STEM Curriculum
Hope Cotner, PI, and Marilyn Barger, Co-PI, Necessary Skills Now Network

The accelerating rate of technology adoption in the past year has dramatically altered the jobs we do and how we do them. While efficiencies have been realized across sectors, the changes brought about by remote work have illuminated the fact that “uniquely human” skills like communication and problem solving are sorely lacking among today’s workforce. Research indicates this skills gap is particularly acute among STEM technicians.
Researchers Identify Effective Strategies for Developing Employability Skills in CTE-STEM Fields
A Q&A with Dr. Louise Yarnall and Dr. Julie Remold, Developers, Working Stronger and Smarter: A Handbook on Theory and Techniques for Developing Employability Skills for Technicians

Researchers Yarnall and Remold provide this rationale for the handbook: “We realized that helping students and employees improve their employability skills can seem like a good idea, but also a vague one. We set out to see what methods for developing these skills were being used in STEM technical fields. To do so, we reviewed research and interviewed both instructors and employers who work with early career technicians in two very different areas: Information Technology and Advanced Manufacturing. Through gathering this information, we learned from experts about how employability skills are measured and developed. We wanted to present the findings in a concrete way that both educators and employers could use. We created the handbook as an ‘idea book’ that spotlights learning principles, resources, and examples of how to develop employability skills.”
Stacking the Deck with Employability Skills

A novel approach for building students' soft skills
It all started with a question Ohio University’s Greg Kremer posed to his employer advisory board in 2017. “What are those differentiating factors among students you hire and those you don’t?” Kremer’s goal was to help his engineering students improve their odds for employment. The answer from the advisory board, however, surprised Kremer: “When they can tell a story about how they’ve developed soft skills.”
Voices from the Field: Educators and Employers Share Perspectives on the Pandemic’s Impact on Employability Skills Instruction
Employers and college faculty members were asked for their take on how recent events have affected the need for employability skills among job applicants and how evolving course delivery formats are changing employability skills instruction. Here’s how they responded.
Featured Resources
Workers need more than just their educational credentials to qualify for jobs that pay well, keep those jobs, secure promotions, and boost their earnings on the job. Workplace Basics: The Competencies Employers Want reveals the five most in-demand competencies across the labor market.
Many postsecondary institutions are embedding “stackable” credentials aligned with industry requirements into certificate and degree programs. By organizing programs around credentials that build upon each other, colleges can offer incremental milestones on the path to degree completion. This document shows how.
Items of Interest
The MTMU Toolkit: A Collection of Place-Based Solutions for Future Adult Career Pathways Models highlights the innovations of the 10 teams who participated in the Adult Career Pathways Design Challenge and discusses three essential principles for their success—Being Adaptable, Removing Barriers, and Maximizing Potential. The toolkit also details policy opportunities and tangible next steps to create or build upon current adult career pathways models that close gaps and create greater mobility for low-income adults.
Stephen Dunnivant, Central Campus President and Vice Provost of Teaching Excellence and Learning, Broward College, evolllution.com, January 5, 2021
When we envision the future of higher education, our students’ lives, and the vibrancy of our community, we can see significant changes on the horizon. ... As we struggle to emerge from a global pandemic in increasingly uncertain times, we know all too well that members in our community not afforded access to or success within higher education will be at extreme disadvantage.
Upcoming Webinar
Introduction to the Necessary Skills Now Network
March 11, 1:00–1:30 pm EST

Join Marilyn Barger and Hope Cotner for a short, engaging conversation about in-demand employability skills and no-cost resources and professional development available from the Necessary Skills Now Network.
©2021 CORD. Connections is published by the National Career Pathways Network (ncpn.info), an organization of CORD (cord.org). NCPN assists educators, employers, and other stakeholders in planning, implementing, evaluating, and improving workforce education programs. Questions? Mark Whitney, 254-741-8315, mwhitney@cord.org