Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Social Skills in the Workplace

According to 10 Years On, High-school Social Skills Predict Better Earnings Than Test Scores,

· “…high-school students who had been rated as conscientious and cooperative by their teachers were earning more than classmates who had similar test scores but fewer social skills…”
· “…good schools do more than teach reading, writing, and math. They socialize students and provide the kinds of learning opportunities that help them to become good citizens and to be successful in the labor market…”
· “…employer surveys that stress the need for workers who can get along well with each other and get along well with the public…”
· “…the most successful students are those who have not only high achievement test scores but also the kinds of social skills and behaviors that are highly rewarded by employers in the workplace…”

When I see information like this it makes me more determined to enlighten other teachers about teaching social skills in connection with their academic skills. I have talked to employers myself as I tried to prepare my students for the workplace and they told me that general social skills was more important than knowing the specific knowledge for a task when they first enter the workplace. A student needs to know how to learn, how to ask questions of coworkers, how to work with coworkers, and how to handle conflict. These are skills that an employer does not have time to train an employee to do. They want employees to know these skills when they hire them and can spend time just training them to do the actual task. When an employer has to take time to show the employee how to take notes or how to remember the task, there is concern whether this employee is the best person for the job. When there are conflicts between employees, it takes time away from production when the employer has to deal with this situation. An employer has to trust that an employee will ask questions if they need help or doesn’t know something rather than doing something wrong and wasting company time and money.

I’m not saying that social skills are more important than academic skills but I do feel they go hand in hand when preparing students for the workplace. What are your thoughts about this?
photo credit: Original image: 'Working Together Teamwork Puzzle Concept' Scott Maxwell


Mama Monkey said...

Your piqued my interest, and your thoughts seem right on target to me. I am always pondering social skills with my 3 homeschooled kids, one of whom is on the autism spectrum. I definitely think this is as important as academics. I am curious. How do you work on social skills with your students in the classroom? I'd love to hear more about how you integrate this into your teaching.

loonyhiker said...

mama monkey: Thanks for your comment and I have so many ideas that I thought I would write a whole blog post about it. It will probably be posted Monday. I will keep you updated.

M-Dawg said...

As I've mentioned in previous posts, I teach 9th grade. In the Freshman House, we are having a HUGE problem this year with the lack of social skills. This is the worst that I've ever seen in my ten years teaching high school social studies.

For example, on my team, we have three students (1 boy and two girls) that suck their thumbs (I need to point out they are 14 years old). From what I understand from other freshman teachers, they have a few kids on their teams too that suck their thumbs. I've been told by my housemaster to report it to the adjustment counselor - I feel that this is a parental issue - not a school issue.

I'll be curious to see what you post on Monday about this topic. :-)

loonyhiker said...

m-dawg: I agree with you on the thumb sucking. It is definitely a home issue and not a school issue unless it somehow disrupts the classroom. My sister in law is in her 60s now and has always sucked her thumb, yet she is a competent nurse and great caregiver.